Thank you!

Artistic Director Ju Gosling aka ju90 writes: At the end of our Together! 2013 Disability History Month festival, thanks goes to all of the people who have worked to make the past month’s events and activities such a success – as well as to all of you who have supported the festival by visiting our exhibition, participating in our workshops, joining in our discussions and watching the performances.

Thanks to the local, national and international disabled artists, companies and filmmakers who have contributed to the festival by exhibiting their work and performing and leading workshops, especially Abnormally Funny People, Act Up theatre company, Arts Disability Forum Ireland, Katherine Araniello, Don Biswas, Cooltan Arts, DaDaFest International, John O’Donoghue, Kynnys Kino, Nicola Miles-Wildin, Mouse on the Telly, Sophie Partridge, Liz Porter, SignDance Collective International, Eve Smith, Clare Summerskill, Robin Surgeoner aka Angry Fish, Allan Sutherland and Theatre Royal Haymarket. Thanks as well as to the production and support teams behind them. We’ve seen some wonderful performances and workshops over the past month, as well as having work by more than 70 locally based/connected disabled adults and children on exhibition at the Old Town Hall. The exhibition will remain at the Old Town Hall until the end of January, and then as with our 2012 Open Exhibition, we intend to tour it to other venues in the borough next year.

Thanks to our funders, without whom we would have had a very different and much smaller festival: Arts Council England; People’s Health Trust and the Community First Foundation. We very much appreciate their support, and hope to continue the relationship with all three organizations in 2014. Thanks as well to Ramada Hotel Suites for providing complimentary artists’ accommodation, and to UEL for providing the Film Festival venue. Meanwhile Artemis Theatre Company, Dogwoof Films, November Films and 104 Films all waved their screening fees for our festival feature films.

Thanks to the Sign Language Interpreters Ann-Marie Marray, Michelle Rees-Jones, Jason Smith and Ruth Wium, whose hard work preparing and delivering BSL translation, SSE and Communication Support enabled Deaf access at all of our funded and many of our unfunded events. In particular, thanks to Sasha from Bruchinaarts who spent many hours of volunteering organising this for us.

Thanks too to the individual workers and groups who facilitated and enabled participation as needed, particularly John Barfoot from Newham Autism Team, Tae Catford from Powerhouse, Maria-Theresa Fernandes from East End Hamlets, Rachel Flower from Richard House, Richard Lilley from Starpad DJs, Ella Tarratt from McGrath Makers, and Zoe Kilb from Discover Centre.

Thanks to all of the volunteers who have contributed so much to this year’s festival. Until recently we have been run entirely by volunteers, and volunteers will continue to be essential to the success of our activities. We are delighted that Newham Volunteer Team members have joined us for the festival, and hope that this is just the start of a long relationship between the Newham Volunteer Team and Together! In particular, thanks to Nancy Whiskin and Kolsuma Mia for all of their efforts to recruit and organise Volunteer Team members for us. Special thanks must also go to our long-term event volunteers Blake and Dawn.

Thanks to the venue staff who have helped us to put on the different festival events and activities. We have a policy of programming work in as many different parts of the borough as possible, and the vast majority of the venues that we use are not professional arts venues. We’ve had a great deal of support and patience both in the run-up to the festival and during the events and activities themselves from building managers, receptionists, caretakers and catering staff, which has all helped to fulfil our aim of making the festival welcoming and inclusive to all. I’d particularly like to thank Alison Davenport and her team at the Old Town Hall, who stepped in when our intended exhibition and party venue fell through late in the day, and have done so much to contribute to our success; Hannah Binley at the Garden Cafe; Beryl Callison at Ascension Church; Marie Hollbrook at the River Christian Centre; Kim Stevens at Vicarage Lane Community Centre; Kay Garib at St John’s Church Stratford; Margaret Spence at Margaret’s Community Kitchen; Gary Wilson at Stratford Circus; Barbara Yearsley at St Mark’s Community Centre; and Malcolm at the McGrath Centre.

Finally, I’d like to thank my core team: my fellow directors Georgia Drysdale, Sarah Hughes and Julie Newman and our festival crew members Cliff Segree and Diane Artis. They have all put in countless number of hours to ensure that the festival has run smoothly whatever challenges have been thrown at us. I couldn’t ask for a better team to work with – and indeed never have worked with a better team – and look forward to working with all of them again in 2014.

We did it Together!

Wishing you a very happy holidays, and a New Year that is full of art and friendship.