New Melbourne Festival Celebrates Art And Disability

21 July 2022

A bold new arts festival is recognising the contribution Deaf and Disabled creatives make to the cultural fabric of Victoria.

Poster for Alter state
Rodney Bell for Meremere by Movement of the Human Image by Tom Hoyle

Taking over Arts Centre Melbourne this September, the first-ever Alter State Festival will bring creatives from Australia and New Zealand/Aotearoa to feature works to live audiences across theatre, circus, music, storytelling and art making paired with family friendly events.

Lived experience is at the core of Alter State with Deaf and Disabled artists leading decision-making, creative development and connections with the disability arts sector and the broader Deaf and Disabled community.

The program has been developed by creative lead Caroline Bowditch, Arts Access Victoria and Arts Centre Melbourne – alongside the festival’s Foundation Artists, Victorian disability activist and writer Carly Findlay OAM, WA-based dancer/choreographer Joshua Pether and New Zealand/Aotearoa dancer Rodney Bell.

Performers from Women’s Circus will bring Arts Centre Melbourne’s outdoor spaces to life with Momentum, while Rodney Bell’s work Meremere will weave stories from the artist’s life through dance and theatre.

Local theatre-makers for young people Polyglot will team up with the UK’s Oilycart for When The World Turns, while a unique sensory work for children and aspiring young creatives will take a deep dive into creative practice with the workshop series Come And Make Performance (CAMP).

Alter State also includes collaborations with disability-led screen festival The Other Film Festival – Australia’s leading arts and disability forum Meeting Place – as well as accessible portable arts space Nebula.

The festival prioritises accessibility with quiet spaces, Auslan and New Zealand Sign Language interpreters and live captioning. The Victorian Government has supported the development of Alter State through VicHealth.

Alter State will take place at Arts Centre Melbourne venues from 12 September to 9 October.