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Festival returns after averting funding crisis


Unique event will run alongside Edinburgh Fringe

After surviving a funding crisis, the Edinburgh Deaf Festival is returning for its third year with a packed programme of events.

The festival, which runs alongside the Edinburgh Fringe and takes place from 9-18 August, is unique in the UK – providing a platform for deaf talent, giving deaf audiences access to the arts and inviting hearing audiences to experience a vibrant area of creative culture.

Organised by Deaf Action (the world’s oldest deaf-led organisation) it continues the pioneering work that made Edinburgh a world-leader in championing the interests of deaf people.

A programme launch held The Hub, at the top of the Royal Mile, brought together representatives from arts organisations, other festivals and funders.

A festival highlight will be the world premiere of The Ghost of Alexander Blackwood, a play produced and performed by deaf creatives that celebrates a truly remarkable character from the city’s past.

Deaf from childhood, Blackwood became the pastor of the first Deaf Church, which held its inaugural service in 1830 in rooms in Lady Stair Close.

Then in 1835 he founded the organisation which grew to become Deaf Action, which has its HQ in Albany Street, where most festival shows are held.

Philip Gerrard, CEO of organisers Deaf Action, said: “Blackwood was a deaf pioneer, and an important figure in the campaign for deaf people to have equal access and opportunities.

“Our organisation, and this festival, keep that spirit alive. This year’s event will be a bright and vibrant celebration of deaf theatre, comedy, cabaret and wider culture with lots for deaf and hearing audiences to enjoy.

“A funding crisis created severe doubts about whether we would be able to hold a festival in 2024, but we managed to survive … for the moment.

“However, we urgently need support to make the event sustainable and allow it to survive and develop and will be using this year’s festival to campaign for a fair deal for deaf arts, artists and audiences.”

The festival will see the launch of an Alexander Blackwood Heritage Tour, which includes Lady Stair Close, and will also feature a debate on funding the deaf arts and the barriers faced by deaf artists.



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