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New work created by D/deaf, neurodivergent & disabled artists in NI celebrated in lockdown films

Thursday 9th September 2021 at 10am 0 Comments

Twelve D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled professional artists based in Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland have produced new film and audio works as part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative. Three of the twelve artists are from Northern Ireland and includes, playwright, Shannon Yee, animator, Joel Simon and poet/comedian, Alice McCullough. These new works have just been released and are now being shared and celebrated, available to view, on BBC I-Player at

The artists were commissioned to deliver strand 2 of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative, which has succeeded in bringing exciting, new, digital arts content into people’s homes during lockdown. The new work champions the creativity of D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled professional artists, who produced outstanding projects, many during periods of isolation in lockdown, and which provide a rich source of material which explores their experiences of living through Covid-19.

The programme was launched in 2020 in a partnership between BBC Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council England and Creative Scotland, to mark the 25th anniversary of the passing into law of the Disability Discrimination Act, forming part of wider disability programming across the BBC.

The film and audio works commissioned, with the support of digital arts agency The Space, Unlimited and the UK Disability Arts Alliance, include performance dramas, dance, comedy, spoken word poetry and animation.

Lamia Dabboussy, BBC Head of Arts said:

“This batch of commissions from artists across the country showcases the breadth of inspiring work we’ve all missed experiencing over this past lockdown year. I’m thrilled that, as part of Culture in Quarantine, these pieces are being brought to life across BBC platforms. It’s imperative that D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled professional artists are supported to carry on making brilliant work, as the constraints and continuing effects of this pandemic threaten to silence their vital creative voice.”

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support this important initiative with funding to work with our partners, BBC Arts and The Space, to offer three D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled professional artists based in Northern Ireland, the opportunity to create new work. BBC Arts’ Culture In Quarantine initiative has been a life line to many artists; Alice McCullough, Shannon Yee and Joel Simon are hugely talented voices in the arts sector here and we’re delighted that their work will be celebrated on a UK-wide platform through the BBC and reaching new audiences.

The Arts Council is fully committed in supporting our D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled artists to develop professionally and create new work that can be showcased locally, nationally and internationally, helping to put Northern Ireland on the map for all the right reasons. I would encourage everyone to tune into BBC I-Player and enjoy the works from all twelve artists across the UK. ”

The three new works from artists in Northern Ireland include:

  • Earth To Alice, a film adapted from poet and comedian Alice McCullough’s one-woman show, written and performed by Alice, about navigating the twists and turns of bipolar disorder during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Pandemic Parenting: Pandemonium, a dance theatre film by Irish playwright Shannon Yee, exploring the unique challenges for parents of newly born and young children during lockdown
  • The Cat, The Mouse and The Sausage, an animation of a Grimm’s Brothers fairy tale by award-winning filmmaker Joel Simon

Through BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative, each of the commissioned artists was assigned an Executive Producer from digital arts support agency, The Space, in partnership with Unlimited, an arts commissioning programme that enables new work by disabled artists to reach UK and international audiences. The Executive Producer mentored and supported the artists throughout production and delivery of their work to BBC platforms.

These commissions build on the success of strand one of the BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine commissioning programme, launched in April 2020, by BBC Arts; the Lyric Theatre Belfast successfully produced a series of 6 short films called Splendid Isolation, during strand one to great acclaim, and achieved audiences in the millions across BBC TV and BBC iplayer platforms.

To view all the new works visit BBC iPlayer at

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