The BBC has commissioned a number of new works by D/deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent professionals based across the UK that will be broadcast this summer as part of its BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine Initiative.

The commissioning group aimed to bring the arts into homes across the country over the duration of the lockdown and intends to champion 12 disabled creatives in a move made in partnership with a number of organisations, including BBC Arts, Arts Council England, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Arts Council of Wales, and Creative Scotland, marking the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Disability Discrimination act.

Commissions focus on the experiences of disabled people living through the COVID-19 pandemic and include dramas, dance, comedy, spoken-word poetry, and animation. They were selected by a panel including representatives from the aforementioned arts organisations, as well as the UK Disability Arts Alliance and Unlimited.

The 12 projects commissioned are:

  • Silent World by Signkid (England), a musical short film in both spoken word and BSL exploring the “silent world” that has been intensified in the pandemic;
  • Hen Night by Vici Wreford-Sinnott and Frances Ryan (England), a short film about Jessica, a woman who is told her care budget is about to be cut, which threatens her independence and dignity;
  • Spectrum Sounds by Andrew Hugill (England), a collection of seven pieces of music inspired by synaesthesia and autism;
  • Face It by Miranda Walker (England), a comedy-drama monologue about how two women feel about their faces in the context of both the modern world and the pandemic;
  • How to Thrive in 2050: 8 Tentacular Workouts for a Tantalising Future! by Kai Syng Tan (England) is a manifesto by a “human-octopussy” that calls for a more creative, equitable and neuro-fantastic future;
  • Earth to Alice by Alice McCullough (Northern Ireland) is an adaption of her one-woman show about living with bipolar disorder in the midst of the pandemic;
  • Pandemic Parenting: Pandemonium by Shannon Yee (Northern Ireland) is a dance-theatre piece about the challenges faced by both parents and newborns in the pandemic;
  • The Cat, The Mouse and The Sausage by Joel Simon (Northern Ireland) is an animated retelling of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale;
  • Louder is Not Always Clearer by Jonny Cotsen (Wales) is a film adaption of the stage show of the same name about a Deaf man navigating his way through a hearing world;
  • Complexity of Skin by Matthew Gough and Krystal S. Lowe (Wales) is a dance film focusing on the experiences of two Black neurodivergent people as their relationship develops;
  • Blind-Sided by Jamie MacDonald (Scotland) is a comedy-drama that sees Jamie leave his familiar Glasgow and move to Sheffield with his wife, and his efforts to reassert control in a strange, new place;
  • AISLE by Ellen Renton and Jess Fig (Scotland) is a film combining poetry and illustration to explore the disabled experience of the pandemic through the act of taking a trip to the supermarket.

Lamia Dabboussy, head of arts at the BBC said: “This batch of commissions from artists across the country showcases the breadth of inspiring work we’ve all missed experiencing over this past lockdown year. I’m thrilled that, as part of Culture in Quarantine, these pieces will be brought to life across BBC platforms. It’s imperative that D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled professional artists are supported to carry on making brilliant work, as the constraints and continuing effects of this pandemic threaten to silence their vital creative voice.”

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Image courtesy of the BBC