Bounce 2023 press release


Bounce Arts Festival returns with extraordinary celebration of diversity

Northern Ireland’s leading celebration of artistic diversity and inclusion – the Bounce Arts Festival – returns from October 6 to 8 with a packed programme of more than 30 events.

Run by the University of Atypical, the festival showcases the extraordinary talent and creativity of d/Deaf, Disabled and neurodiverse artists in the UK, Ireland and beyond with a focus on accessibility for all audiences.

Many of the performances and workshops are free or pay what you can, and encompass all aspects of the arts including theatre, dance, comedy, puppetry, visual arts and talks.

Damien Coyle, Chief Executive of University of Atypical, said:
“The Bounce Festival has now evolved into one of the largest celebrations of artistic diversity and inclusivity in these islands. We are proud to be bringing it to new venues across Northern Ireland so that more people can enjoy the performances and ideas that these incredible artists have to offer.”

Events will be held not only in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry but also in Omagh, Strabane, Downpatrick, Enniskillen and Cookstown.

The University of Atypical, a disabled-led arts charity, is celebrating its 30th year of supporting and developing the talent of d/Deaf, disabled, and neurodiverse artists and reaching wider audiences through access and inclusion.

The organisation started the Bounce Arts Festival in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad and this year it is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Department for Communities, Belfast City Council, The Ireland Funds, The National Lottery Communities Fund and The Santander Foundation.

Patricia Lavery, Head of Community Arts & Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support University of Atypical and the Bounce Festival, supported by National Lottery Funding thanks to The National Lottery players.

We are committed to supporting the work of D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled artists, and the Bounce Arts Festival offers an important platform to shine a light on work from these amazing artists. Congratulations to University of Atypical who have curated a terrific programme for Bounce this year which features some of the most talented artists from Northern Ireland and beyond. I would encourage everyone to go along and enjoy this exciting and inspirational festival which is simply unmissable!”

Among those performing will be internationally renowned performance poet Alice McCullough, who has had an amazing year as poet in residence at Disability Rights California, studying at the Gaulier school in Paris, and being named by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland as a Major Individual Artist Awardee. She will be hosting, Experi-Mental, a night of exciting new work-in-progress by neurodivergent and disabled artists including New York-based Mari Crawford, who is the first recipient of the University of Atypical’s Art and Disabilty Award at the Edinburgh Fringe for her one woman show. She will be joined by writer and comedian Simon Jay and poet Nathan-Elout Armstrong.

The University of Atypical gallery will host the latest work of visual artist and academic Una Walker, famed for her site-specific installations, which have been exhibited in the UK, Ireland, Europe and internationally for more than 30 years. Her latest work, ‘Dreaming of a Village’ will reimagine the historic landscape outside her rural Co Down home, using video, drawing and local stones.

The festival will also feature father and son County Clare team Fionnathan with their show We All Have Down Syndrome. The duo made up of Fionn Crombie Angus and Jonathan Angus bring comedy, stories and music about navigating the world through a disability lens. They will be supported by husband and wife team Will and Tracy McLean showcasing music crafted during their family journey after Will’s recovery from stroke.

Other highlights this year include:

A takeover of the Crescent Arts Centre by Open Arts featuring the community choir, visual arts groups, creative writers and dance group Luminous Soul.

Comedy at the front of the Guildhall in Derry/Londonderry with Derry Ones – What’s the Craic?! Stage Beyond, the award-winning theatre company for adults with learning disabilities, brings their famous puppet show to town for a stellar line-up of fun sketches with a Derry theme

Dramability, an inclusive workshop, will be held at Down Arts Centre in Downpatrick

A panel discussion on building a culture of creativity at the Ardhowen Theatre will be Chaired by artist Noelle McAlinden who is the High Sheriff of Fermanagh.

Inclusive pop-up magical mystery arts workshop at Strule Arts Centre in Omagh

For the Love of Mary at the Alley Theatre in Strabane is a bilingual autobiographical journey to find the Virgin Mary performed by spoken word artist Mel Bradley.

Brain Injury Matters and Kids in Control/Blue Chevy Adult Physical Theatre Project presents a physical theatre performance that captures the lived experience of nine people who have survived a catastrophic brain injury,

Cutting edge audio visual artist Paul Moore will provide an immersive VR experience, where body, nature and technology collide to provide a glimpse into an alternative reality that is not to be missed.

The festival will end with a big wrap party at the Black Box in Belfast featuring a five-piece alt rock band, The High End Dead and the Black Moon Disco.

For more information on all shows and to book tickets, go to

Arts Council of Northern Ireland joins the world-leading Harkin Summit to lead discussion on the Arts and Disability.

Photo caption: Pictured at the Harkin Summit 2022 (L-R) is William Leatham Vice-Chair, Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI), Moira Doherty, Deputy Secretary for Engaged Communities Group at the Department for Communities, Karly Greene, Director of Strategic Development & Partnerships (ACNI), Gilly Campbell, Head of Participatory Arts (ACNI), Graeme Stevenson, Research and Policy Officer (ACNI), Alice McCullough, poet, and Damien Coyle MBE and Chief Executive of the University of Atypical.

On Wednesday 8 June, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland chaired a panel on Arts and Disability at The Harkin Summit in Belfast, only the second time ever that this leading conference has been delivered outside the USA. The discussion on ‘Arts, Disability and the Pandemic – a creative response’ addressed the barriers facing disabled people and disabled artists in accessing and participating in the arts post- pandemic.

Among the attendees at the Harkin Summit 2022 were global leaders in the fields of Government, disability, research, philanthropy and business. Chairing the Arts Council panel was Arts Council’s Head of Participatory Arts, Gilly Campbell, who was joined by a panel of experts from the disability arts sector, policy and research, creative industries and Government sectors including Fionn Angus and Jonathan Angus of Fionnathan Productions. Gilly commented,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland was proud to take part in the Harkin Summit. Our aim is to help advance and create equality of opportunity to the arts for disabled people and today’s Summit offered a vital platform to bring together those with the power to create change and impact positively on the lives of disabled people; the experts, the researchers, the policy makers and representatives from Government. We are very grateful to Senator Tom Harkin for bringing this influential and important Summit to Northern Ireland and for inviting us to be a part of the challenge for change along with the Department for Communities.”

Northern Ireland benefits from some of the most innovative disabled artists whose work has been honoured by the Arts Council and celebrated locally, nationally and internationally, yet we know that disabled people are facing increased barriers to the arts due to the pandemic – we want this to change.”

Conceived in 2016 by retired US Senator, Tom Harkin, the Harkin Summit is internationally recognised as a platform that brings together leaders and activists across Business, Government, Philanthropy, the Third and Voluntary Sector, and Academia to highlight and address disability employment issues, showcase best practice and success, build relationships and challenge for change.

Senator Harkin also co-authored and sponsored the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) (ADA), and acts as a key advisor to the Biden-Harris Administration on these issues. The Harkin Summit took place over two days, 7-8 June, in Belfast and its overarching 2022 theme was ‘Disability: Shaping, Growing and Driving Economic Change’. It offered a clear focal point for leading transformational change, before, during and post event to advance the equality of opportunity for disabled people.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland works from the perspective of the Social Model of Disability, understanding disability as a problem of exclusion from ordinary life and requiring a change in society’s values and practices in order to remove the barriers to participation. The Arts Council works in partnership with, and takes advice from, disabled people and relevant sector organisations to create our policies and programmes. The Arts Council sees disability as an equality and inclusion issue and aims to encourage universal accessibility to the arts for disabled people in Northern Ireland.

For more information on the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s policies on arts and disability visit

Expressions of Interest – Shutter Art Project (closed)

The University of Atypical for Arts and Disability and Cathedral Quarter Trust in collaboration with Belfast City Council, Business Cluster and Community Grant Programme invite expressions of interest from artists for a Shutter Art Project.

The project will commission up to 6 original artworks for shutters in Belfast City Centre.

The project theme is entitled ‘Revitalising Royal Avenue: North Street to Donegall Street.’

The project is funded by the DfC Covid- 19 City Revitalisation Programme.

We’re seeking artworks that will engage, surprise and delight in Belfast City Centre

1. Brief

We’re looking for expressions of interest / proposals from artists to:

o enhance the City of Belfast with new artworks on display from the corner of North Street to the corner of Donegall Street along Royal Avenue (see map).
o We will commission 6 artworks
o We will select one artist to produce up to 6 individual artworks
o Selected artwork will be reproduced on shopfront shutters
o Proposed artworks should demonstrate the creative excellence of our city

2. Key dates

o Expressions of interest to be submitted by 22nd of February 2022
o Selection of artist on the 25th of February 2022
o Design work/visuals delivered by agreed by 7th of March 2022
o Painting work begins 12th March 2022

3. Budget

o The commissioned artist will be paid £1000 per shutter.
o The budget covers all costs for preparation, materials, artists fee and final production of the finished artwork.
o Selected artists must ensure safe working practises are in place at all times.

4. Application requirements

o All expressions of interest / proposals must be made through the online form.
o Emailed applications will not be accepted.
o To complete the form, the following information is required:

1. artist/team main contact details
2. artist/team’s short biography or CVs
3. Description of proposed artwork (250 words max)
4. Artist’s images (maximum 10 images).
5. Please ensure that all files are clearly labelled with the applicant’s name.
6. The maximum file size for each file is 5MB.

5. Selection Criteria

Proposals will be assessed against the following criteria:

o creative approach
o Quality of proposal
o use of selected space
o experience of the artist/team
o feasibility of the project

Final selection is at the discretion of the selection panel

6. There is a two-stage selection process

Stage one – an open call for expressions of interest / Proposals:

o Open to individual artists or groups / collectives

Stage two – selection panel will invite shortlisted artist/collectives to submit a detailed proposal.

o 10 designs will be shortlisted
o 6 designs will be selected for reproduction on shutters.
o The artist, group / collective will be paid to develop drawings.
o The development fee is £500

7. Location

Artworks will be sited on shopfronts in the Belfast City Centre along Royal Avenue between North Street and Donegall Street.

8. Submitting proposals
Proposals can be submitted at the following location
9. Contact

If you have any queries, please email us at:


An international inclusive livestream adventure
IO1-Meeting Brussels

Five days of intensive training with five theatre groups. All participants, five ambassadors per theatre group are persons with disabilities, full of enthusiasm to perform, to show their theatre and dance skills. This documentary brings an overview of the workshops, interviews with art directors and actors, and reflections on the long-term aims of the YES WE ARE IN project. The documentary shows the diversity of the participants. How some of them, without theatre experience learned a lot from those who are active already for several years. Four of the five groups were never before involved in European projects. For them, and for the city where they come from, this project has a certain impact; proud to be part of a European Erasmus+ project. The five days of cooperation showed also the diversity in the group of art directors and the challenge to become co-creators of the finale live-streamed theatre performances at the end of the project.

An international inclusive livestream adventure
IO2-Meeting Zagreb

In this documentary about the second intensive training meeting of the five theatres in the project, it’s clear that the group immediately felt the results of the regular online meetings since the first physical meeting a year before. the ambassadors had become friends and their interaction in the workshops was much more intense. This allowed the training to go a lot deeper than during the first meeting. The social events were also more open, enjoying the moment together, music, karaoke, dancing. The art directors could finally also meet again physically to exchange their ideas towards the final performances. And the experts from Mediaraven could do in the different rooms from the Tresjnevka Cultural center experiments to go deeper into the live stream technics.

A friend called Loneliness YNY
IO 3 20082021 1 1

A FRIEND CALLED LONELINESS -VISUAL ALBUM is an 8-part video series. It is a
poetic, visual and auditory collection where different aspects of being alone and the
sense of loneliness emerge. How can you be alone? How lonely can you be? Is life
collapsing? How important is friendship? The piece has been created entirely by Theatre
Wärjäämö, a group of artists with disabilities from Tampere, Finland, lead by director
Jarmo Skön. The multidiscplinary art group has been working weekly for 15 years at the
Tampere City Activity Center Wärjäämö in co-operation with Ahjola Adult Education
Center. A FRIEND CALLED LONELINESS- VISUAL ALBUM is also part of the `Yes we
are in’ Erasmus+ -project, in which the group has been involved since 2018 as a partner
with ACCAC Global (Finland). The other partners in the project are from Belgium
(Community Center De Zeyp), Croatia (Culture Center Tresvnejska), England (University
of Wolverhampton) and Northern Ireland (University of Atypical and KIC).

Documentary The power of connection

YES WE ARE IN! The power of connection” is a concluding documentary about an
Erasmus+ project 2018-2021 in which five theatre groups, with people with
disabilities, made a digital and artistic journey. The ultimate goal would be five live
streamed performances with the online participation of the four partners, from the
other European cities. Due to the pandemic, this goal has not been achieved. The
documentary tells the story of the project through interviews and images from our
international encounters. When Thomas says that he is no longer afraid to look for a
future as an artist instead of his current work, he is expressing what many
participants experience: a growth in self-confidence because they could participate in
a European Erasmus+ project!


IO05 YES WE ARE IN some guidelines on live stream

Chris Ledger Legacy Award Winners

£20,000 Awarded to the Chris Ledger Legacy Award Winners

Four disabled artists have won the Chris Ledger Legacy Awards from The University of Atypical in memory of its much-loved former CEO who died in 2020.
Each of the artists will receive £5,000 to help them continue with their practice and create new work.
The Awards, which have been funded by Unlimited and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, recognise the major contribution Chris made to the arts and cultural sector in Northern Ireland and especially her many initiatives to support d/Deaf, disabled, and Neurodiverse artists.
The four recipients are:

Ruth McGinley. Ruth is a musician and composer originally from Derry/Londonderry but now living in Belfast. Ruth will use her award to focus on creating her second album.
Larry McAree. Larry is a learning disabled artist and storyteller from Belfast. Larry will use his award to create new work.
Shiro Masuyama. Shiro is a Japanese artist who has been living in Northern Ireland since 2010. Shiro will use his award to create a new work that will take place between Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Jonny McAllister. Jonny is a composer, musician and DJ from Derry/Londonderry and will use his award to create a new album.

Damien Coyle, CEO, University of Atypical said: “We are delighted with these awards being made to recognise Chris’s achievements and the inspiration she was to so many people. She’d be thrilled to see this level of award going to support new work by D/deaf, Disabled and Neurodiverse Artists.”

Chris Ledger joined the University of Atypical (then known as the Arts and Disability Forum) as Chief Executive in 2009 and was instrumental in supporting D/deaf, Disabled and Neurodiverse Artists. Her passion and determination shone through everything she did and she touched the lives of so many people in the arts sector.
Jo Verrent, Senior Producer at Unlimited said: “I want to thank every artist from Northern Ireland who applied for the Chris Ledger Legacy Awards, the applications were stunning, and it was so difficult to choose the four recipients but what an amazing four we have and what an amazing range of work and depth of experience those artists are going to bring to us.”

The Chris Ledger Legacy Awards winners video


DDASF 3 – Instruction videos

These videos are designed to help you with the application process.

How to book an advice session BSL TRANSALTION

How to book an advice session ISL TRANSALTION

How to complete the application BSL translation

How to complete the application ISL translation

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