Awakening the arts

Janice Florence
Awakenings Festival is a huge disability arts festival that takes place every year. It is based in Horsham in Western Victoria. It offers shows, music and art exhibitions. There are also many workshops and activities for and by people with a disability. This year's festival takes place from October 20 to 22.
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Janice Florence on 12/10/2011
The rock band Rudely Interrupted performing in their studio
Rudely Interrupted in studio

Awakenings includes great music

Awakenings is Australia’s only regional disability arts festival. It started in 1996 with just 40 participants. At this year’s festival hundreds of people from all over Australia and the world are taking part. The festival is expected to attract an audience of thousands.

The festival is based in Horsham in Western Victoria near the ancient, spectacular Grampians mountains. The event will burst into life on October 20. It finishes on Saturday, October 22.

A unique community celebration

The Awakenings Festival is run by Wimmera Uniting Care. The organisation calls their unexpected success story a unique community celebration of ability. They also call the festival a world leader in inclusion.

David Helfgott is the Festival’s patron. David Helfgott is a famous classical pianist who lives with mental illness. The popular film Shine was about David Helfgott’s early life.

Big range of performers

Awakenings attracts a big range of performers. There are people involved in local amateur community organisations right through to professionals. The festival offers opportunities for people with a disability to show their artistic work. It also gives the chance for artists to exchange ideas, to learn and to play.

The festival has live performances, music and drama. There is also multimedia and interactive arts using new technology. Many school groups attend the festival. There are also many workshop programs. There is even a popular ball on Saturday night.

Many different shows

The 2011 program includes many different shows, exhibitions, workshops and activities. Some highlights include: 

  • Exhibitions of visual arts and photography by artists with a disability
  • Music jam sessions
  • Rock n' Roll clowns
  • An orchestra performance
  • A pool party
  • Drama and theatre performances
  • DigiArt project capturing movement to create interactive art
  • The Awakenings ball.

Connecting to each other

Leesa Nash is the director of Family Dog Circus. Ms Nash has taken teenage performers from Croxton Special School to Awakenings every year since 2002.

They are always excited about seeing other performances and sharing their own, Ms Nash says. They connect to each other and the world.

Praising the event

Audience members and participants from past festivals have been glowing in their praise of the event. The whole time in Horsham was a great experience, says one visitor. I’ve had the best time of my life, says another. Our worlds suddenly got a whole lot bigger, adds another. The only problem was it had to end.

More information can be found on the Awakenings Festival website (opens new window).

Readers comments (2)

Hi guys
Is is the part i hate ,as when it 1st started it was for PWD
Nowdays there are people involved in local amateur community organisations right through to professionals.

Are Rudely Interupted playing again this year?

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