Horsham hosting festival of interactive artworks created by learning disabled people

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Horsham is to host the SprungDigi Festival - thought to be the first ever digital arts festival shaped and staged by learning disabled people alongside digital artists.

The free festival will run from July 10 to July 12 and will feature ten digital interactive artworks using music, film, mapping, gaming and performance dotted around the town centre, all created by learning disabled groups from the area.

Highlights of the programme include Relix, the first ever video game with an autistic character, created in partnership with Horsham-based games producer Creative Assembly and Sprungdigi Our Place – where players can create their own digitised dream Horsham.

Supported by Horsham District Council and Arts Council England, Sprungdigi is the brainchild of disability culture specialist Sarah Pickthall and her company Cusp Inc who launched Sprungdigi to encourage learning disabled people to get creative and connect with the world through digital technology.

“Social care cuts have had a drastic impact on learning disabled people, meaning they are finding it more difficult to get out and about and engage with their communities,” says Sarah.

“As a result, many are becoming increasingly isolated and withdrawn. Digital technology can offer learning disabled people huge creative potential and the work on offer during the festival proves that. We hope the whole community will come out, show their support and most of all, have fun together.”

SprungDigi Festival is the culmination of months of creative workshops involving local groups of learning disabled people from a variety of settings, including Queen Elizabeth II School and Horsham Day Services.

The fantastic work includes filmed living portraits of local learning disabled people projected onto buildings in the centre of the town and digital street theatre featuring young learning disabled performers in the streets and parks – all of which will be free for everyone to enjoy.

Cabinet member for community and wellbeing, Kate Rowbottom said: “Horsham District Council has a great track record in helping to create fun, accessible and inclusive projects for the town. In the last decade we’ve helped Horsham develop a reputation as host to some of the best family and community focused large town centre events in the county. It’s exciting to welcome SprungDigi to the fold.”

Horsham District Council is using the festival as a springboard for a scheme – SprungDigi Safe – that involves everyone taking responsibility for learning disabled people’s safety and inclusion.

“We’ll be training local businesses to support learning disabled people and become safe havens where they know they will be welcomed and understood,” said Rowbottom. “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.”

SprungDigi is looking for volunteers to train for the Festival in June and July, to find out more and/or apply email: sprungdigital@gmail.com. To see the full Festival programme, please visit: www.sprungdigi.com

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