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First-ever Intl Disability Art Festival kicks off

International Disability Art Festival 2024, the culmination event of the British Councils long-standing work in disability arts in Bangladesh, took place on 26 April 2024, at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. The event will continue and will end on 27 April 2024. The inauguration of the event occurred at 3:00 pm, followed by an inclusive theatre performance, 71 in Silence, to commemorate the liberation war. The festival included an exhibition titled Odommo Shilpotshob(Indomitable Art Festival) which was Curated by IID, the exhibition featured diverse artwork spanning music, painting, sculpture, and more. Also there was theatre performances, panel discussions, film screenings, and a marketplace.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Dr Dipu Moni, Minister of Social Welfare, Government of Bangladesh; Matt Cannell, Deputy High Commissioner and Development Director, British High Commission in Bangladesh; Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director, Graeae Theatre Company; Shannon West, Director Bangladesh (interim), British Council; Nasiruddin Yousuff, Founder and Director, Dhaka Theatre; and Syeed Ahamed, Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Informatics and Development (IID). Naheed Ezaher Khan, State Minister of Cultural Affairs of Bangladesh, will attend the closing ceremony.

International Disability Art Festival is part of the British Councils project DARE (Disability Arts: Redefining Empowerment). DARE is a multilayer project aimed at developing the understanding and confidence among disabled people and the arts sector in Bangladesh. The project aims to bridge the gap between people with disabilities and the broader society. It was launched in 2019 in partnership with Dhaka Theatre and IID (Institute of Informatics and Development).

On the first day, guests were invited to attend and watch five theatre productions: 71 in Silence by Ramesh Meyyappan, Circus Circus by Mostafiz Shahin, Tribeni by Quazi Nawshaba Ahmed, Kendro Borabor Shurongotir Naam Prithibi by Esha Yousuf and Rafiqul Islam, and WASTELAND – A Journey by Sanjay Ganguly, director, Jana Sanskriti Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed, Kolkata. One panel discussion took place on the first day, titled Disability Representation in the Art Sector, which addressed the underrepresentation of people with disabilities in multiple spheres of society, including arts.