SprungDigi Festival will feature digital interactive artworks using music, film, mapping, gaming and performance dotted around the town centre, all created by learning disability groups from the area.
The festival is the brainchild of diversity arts specialist and digital producer, Sarah Pickthall, who, having worked with disabled people for decades, began to notice the impact of social care cuts on people with learning disabilities’ lives.
"I noticed how some of the learning disabled people I worked with were becoming more withdrawn and their language and communication was suffering," she said. "By partnering with digital creatives at the top of their field, such as Dave Packer, Lynn Weddle and Exploring Senses, learning disabled people are finding new ways to express themselves in ways that surprise, delight and sometimes frustrate them."
SprungDigi Festival will be the culmination of months of creative workshops involving local groups of people with learning disabilities from a variety of settings, including schools, day centres and clubs. The work includes filmed living portraits of local people with learning disabilities projected onto buildings in central locations, digital street theatre featuring young performers with learning disabilities, a game of dares played around town using a festival mapping app on a mobile or tablet, and a workshop in which participants can create their own digitised dream Horsham open to all across the festival.
Nick Jenkins, community development officer from Horsham District Council, which is supporting SprungDigi, said: "This is about offering learning disabled people the same social and creative freedoms as everyone else, with an emphasis on positive integration and safe autonomy.
"We want everyone in our community to feel safe and valued and we’ve long seen the benefits of using arts and creativity to achieve that. We’re using the festival as a springboard for a scheme – Sprungdigi Safe – that involves everyone taking responsibility for learning disabled people’s safety and inclusion; training local businesses to support learning disabled people and become safe havens where they know they will be welcome and understood."
Designed as a showcase of the creative and developmental possibilities offered by digital, its organisers hope more people with learning disabilities – and ultimately those who support them too – will be inspired to see the benefits digital technology could bring to their lives.
Pickthall added: "Everyone has the right to a creative life, everyone has the right to be part of a community and no one should feel excluded from the digital revolution happening around us. Without support and encouragement to take part, learning disabled people risk being left behind and becoming even more socially isolated in this climate of austerity."
For a full SprungDigi Festival programme, please visit: www.sprungdigi.com.