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Liberty Open Call Artists Announced

Eight D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists have been awarded funding from the Mayor of London to create work that will feature as part of Lewisham's year as London Borough of Culture 2022.

A man stares at his hand, striking a pose while performing. He is wearing a hearing aid. From Here/Not Here by Bim Ajadi.

Each artist or artist collective will receive a grant through the Mayor’s Liberty Open Call Fund. The £70,000 fund was established by the Mayor of London to support and celebrate D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists, who have been disproportionately affected by the impact of COVID-19.

The grants of between £3,000 and £10,000 will support the artists to research and develop work for the public to enjoy and to put on workshops with the local community.


The selected artists are:

  • Bim Ajadi’s HERE/NOT HERE – a hip hop drama exploring the relationship between British Sign Language, Krump dance, football and Visual Vernacular

  • Rachel Bagshaw’s Trio – a dance theatre production, combining choreography, projected captioning and live audio description

  • Stephen Bailey’s LIFE/dream – a stage exploration of repurposing traditional stories to respond to the lived experience of those with a perceived learning disability

  • D-Fuse’s Respira-Trees – an installation of trees that change colour as air pollution levels change

  • David Johnson’s Sanctuary Café - a café that includes life-sized concrete cast human figures to sit alongside

  • Teresa Howard’s GHOSTWOOD – an immersive virtual reality experience bringing an ancient oak woodland to life

  • Local Senses: mapping in Lewisham - a series of focused walks using tactile card forms and sensory reflections designed to capture smell, sound and terrain

  • Nina Thomas’s [Captioning Lewisham] – displaying captions of real or imagined experiences across public spaces in a walking trail.


Two women are knelt on a stage, silhouetted against a bright light. They have big bags between them, and one is gesturing to the other.

How were the artists selected? 94 proposals were received. All proposals received demonstrated the breadth and depth of creativity in London’s D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent communities.

The selection process entailed an initial eligibility check done by GLA officers. A panel made up of Liberty Advisory Group members, GLA staff and creative producers then voted on individual applications, with appropriate recusals made by Advisory Group members with links to potential applicants. The final stage involved meeting and deliberating on the 20 most voted proposals.

About Liberty Liberty is the Mayor of London's flagship programme celebrating D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists. Since 2019, it has developed into a touring festival, taking D/deaf and disabled arts to local communities in outer boroughs. In 2022, Liberty Festival will be embedded within Lewisham's programme for the The Mayor of London's Borough of Culture. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Liberty was unable to take place in 2020 and this year. This fund for 2022 continues the Mayor of London's commitment to celebrate D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists showcasing and commissioning new arts works in London.

Read more Read Liberty Creative Producer Linda Rocco's blog about her experiences, Liberty and how the arts’ recovery from the pandemic must be inclusive.


Follow @LND_culture and @iamlewisham for more updates.


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