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Ground breaking arts festival opens in Stoke-on-Trent

FRONTLINEdance Artistic Director Rachel Lines and Councillor Lorraine Beardmore with the "Spine" installation

An arts festival created by disabled people gets underway in Stoke-on-Trent today.

The FRONTLINE Arts Festival is a pioneering project that features an inclusive programme of professional, high-quality, artistic work created by disabled people, which includes three arts commissions, performances, installations, inclusive workshops, talks, and discussions.

It is accessible to everyone to attend and enjoy and it is the first ever West Midlands disability arts festival.

Another unique feature is that all of the events are “pay what you decide” and there are more than 50 disabled artists involved in the project as makers, performers, speakers and workshop leaders.

The festival has been supported by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Appetite, as well as a large list of venues and other organisations.

This support included a £3,000 grant from the city council’s 2018 community festival and events fund, which allowed FRONTLINEdance to draw down larger funding including an Arts Council England grant.

FRONTLINEdance’s aims include reaching more of the local disabled community and showcasing the great work being produced by disabled artists.

Among the events taking place, visitors to the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Hanley can see a fully accessible, interactive ‘Spine’ sculpture.

The 5m-long tunnel provides a sensory experience with lighting and sound.

Spine was commissioned by Stoke Mandeville Spinal Unit and created by artist Janek Niedojadlo.

Janek worked with patients and came up with the idea; and the concept was for visitors to be able to go inside the sculpture and see the lights pulsing up and down the tunnel.

The lights represent nerve impulses sending messages back and forth from the head to the body.

The festival takes place across Stoke-on-Trent from October 1 to November 1.

To find out what’s on, visit https://frontlineartsfestival.co.uk.

You can download a digital copy of the festival guide here: FRONTLINE Arts Festival GUIDE.

More information on the "Spine" sculpture is availabe here: https://frontlineartsfestival.co.uk/installations/janek-niedojadlo-spine/ .

More information on the artist is here: https://www.podules.org

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