Making the Future A Brighter Place for learning-disabled young people
Date Created: 15th May 2018
Back in 2016, we launched our Arts Award Festival Investment scheme. We put a call-out offering our support to organisations with the capacity to help groups of young people complete their Arts Awards, within a ‘festival’ setting (or similar). One of the successful projects that worked to incorporate Arts Award into their existing programme was the Oska Bright Film Festival. Our Artsmark & Arts Award Apprentice Meg reports on the Festival in November of last year, below.
Led by Festival Director, Becky Bruzas, and Head Programmer, Matthew Hellett, Oska Bright is a film festival dedicated to showcasing the work of people with a range of learning disabilities. The festival back in November 2017 marked Brighton’s eighth edition and was a great display of the continued support this three-day event is receiving.
Representing work from 13 countries, the festival generates the opportunity for attendees to not only view original work from the UK, but also experience films being created by independent filmmakers all over Europe and beyond. With only 5% of disabled people securing jobs in the creative industry, events like this help to bring appreciation for the interesting and thought-provoking work being produced by those often lacking representation in the these areas. Carousel, the organisation behind Oska Bright, decided to incorporate Arts Award within the 2017 festival. 61 young people achieved Arts Award Discover, while 7 achieved Arts Award Bronze.
Those involved were asked to review the festival and rate their experiences. The support from Artswork enabled 17 cultural practitioners and 19 teachers/youth workers to work on the project. This meant that the young people who might otherwise have struggled to complete the relevant tasks alone were able to receive guidance on their Arts Award journeys. Furthermore, two of Carousel’s learning disabled artists were able to train to become Arts Award advisers.
There were several awards to be had for the best entries, including ‘Best Story’, ‘Best Documentary’, Best Choreography’, ‘Best Performance’ and ‘Best International Film’. Herbert Media walked away with the 2017 Oska Bright Emerging Talent Award.
This year’s festival also saw the introduction of a new LGBTQ+ strand, which facilitated the showcasing of films tackling themes of gender, identity and sexuality. It brought to light the thoughts and feelings of learning-disabled people also coming to terms with their own sense of self. Winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award, Matthew Kennedy, created a short film titled Just Me, exploring such themes alongside his personal experiences as a gay, learning-disabled artist. Life on Two Spectrums, a film by Elizabeth-Valentina Sutton also focused on LGBTQ+ themes with its glimpse into the world of Dan Tia Anna Kahn, a drag queen with Asperger’s Syndrome who founded A.S.P.E.C.S.
Dance was also on offer, through an exhibition named Arty Party, Four Solos in the Wild, which featured dancers performing in woodland areas, highlighting the importance of connecting with nature. The performances were accompanied by songs by local musicians from the area.
The festival successfully generated an enthusiastic environment for young people to achieve their Arts Award in, as well as encompassing the screenings of relevant and independent films for them to experience and enjoy along the way.
If you would like to incorporate Arts Award alongside your existing programme of work, you can find out more here