Blue washed image of three people drumming

Undercover Artist Festival Program announced

Artists and arts workers from across Australia will gather in Brisbane this September for the Undercover Artist Festival; Australia’s premier performing arts and disability-led festival.

Presented by Access Arts as a highlight event within this year’s Brisbane Festival, the four-day ground-breaking festival at Queensland Theatre showcases 12 bold and daring works from disabled performing artists alongside a dynamic program of forums, workshops and events.

As Australia’s only disability-led arts festival, Undercover Artist Festival features bold, trailblazing performances from a mixture of local and national artists that will leave you coming back for more!

Undercover Artist Festival Director Madeleine Little said the festival sought to redefine ‘artistic excellence’ placing the performances among Australia’s finest

 “Through this festival, we’re not only challenging notions of excellence but creating a legacy that will last far beyond the four-day event.” 

Giving depth to the 2021 program, the festival offering is divided into three tracks; Creative, Career and Community, each offering a unique experience for festival goers.

Creative

Almost half of the disability-led, professional performing arts works that make up the Creative track are world premieres, and have been hand-picked to showcase the incredible quality of disability-led work being made across the country.

Gold Coast-based aerialist and wheelchair user (and Access Arts Achievement Award Winner) Lauren Watson pushes the limits to what the body can do in world premiere Nerve.

Sarah Houbolt’s Green Room Award-winning Koo Koo the Bird Girl returns to Brisbane, examining historical freak shows in a haunting and subversively funny one-woman circus show.

Happy-Go-Wrong by Andi Snelling is a roller-coaster recollection of the greatest accident of Snelling’s life – a tiny tick bite that plunged her into dangerously ill health and forever changed her life.

In Brown Church, proud queer Indian performer Naavikaran uses spoken word, song and dance to share their poignant journey to liberation.

Emerging Queensland artist Oliver Hetherington-Page premieres original comedy cabaret The No Bang Theory in his quest to educate the world that a person with autism does not look like The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper.

In a special event, South Australia’s popular all-female vocal group The Sisters of Invention will launch their highly-anticipated second album, direct from an acclaimed appearance at Adelaide Cabaret Festival.  

Community

In the Community track is contemporary dance theatre work Je Suis Toi (I Am You). Artists Timothy Orton, Mitchell Runcie and Allycia Staples from The Sunshine Troupe spotlight our collective difference as a means of moving toward more positive and respectful futures for all.

As well as our very own Access Arts ensemble performing 3 Worlds, a creative exploration of movement and sound.

Career

The festivals Career track encompasses workshops, panel conversations and professional development opportunities with industry leaders.

In a first for Queensland, the 2021 Undercover Artist Festival will also be home to Meeting Place: Australia’s annual forum on arts, culture and accessibility.

Hosted by Arts Access Australia, the disability-led Meeting Place forum will run from 15 – 17 September and include a dynamic mix of workshops, panel discussions and networking opportunities.

Arts Access Australia CEO Matthew Hall said, “In 2021, we will draw from the direct experiences and vast knowledge of our disabled community to reflect, reimagine and recreate what it means to be truly inclusive and accessible in the arts.”

Little said platforms like Undercover Artist Festival provided artists with disability the space to present the most authentic version of their artist selves.  

“It’s about creating a platform where we can work in the ways that are best for us,

“Hopefully emerging artists can look to us and see themselves represented, and see an opportunity that’s for them,” Little said.

Emphasizing the significance of a disability-led project, Little said “the festival puts artists with disability at the forefront in the public sphere, ensuring full ownership lies with them, creating works that are authentic, powerful and meaningful.”

“It’s not just about putting on great art or challenging excellence or providing performance opportunities for artists with disability – it’s a ‘coming home’ of sorts, where d/Deaf and disabled performing artists are welcome, and welcomed into a space that’s accessible to them.

“It’s by us and for us, and for everyone else as well.” 

Undercover Artist Festival takes place Wednesday 15 – Saturday 18 September 2021 at Queensland Theatre, South Brisbane. For the full program, performance and venue accessibility information, visit  undercoverartistfest.com/festival-2021/ bit.ly/UAF2021or

Undercover Artist Festival is presented by Access Arts

Proudly sponsored by Brisbane City Council.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and the Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.