Bounce Arts Festival returns with extraordinary celebration of diversity

19th September, 2023

Northern Ireland’s leading celebration of artistic diversity and inclusion – the Bounce Arts Festival – returns from October 6 to 8 with a packed programme of more than 30 events.

Group of people holding the programme for the 2023 Bounce Arts Festival
The Bounce Arts Festival, Northern Ireland’s leading celebration of artistic diversity and inclusion, takes place from October 6 to 8 with a packed programme of more than 30 events. Launching the festival programme were: Festival volunteer Robert Whiteman, Patricia Lavery, Head of Community Arts & Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Damien Coyle, Chief Executive of University of Atypical, Federica Ferrieri, Bounce Arts Festival Coordinator and festival volunteer Steven Bradley. For details go to

Run by the University of Atypical, the festival showcases the extraordinary talent and creativity of d/Deaf, Disabled and neurodiverse artists in the UK, Ireland and beyond with a focus on accessibility for all audiences.

Many of the performances and workshops are free or pay what you can, and encompass all aspects of the arts including theatre, dance, comedy, puppetry, visual arts and talks.

Damien Coyle, Chief Executive of University of Atypical, said

“The Bounce Festival has now evolved into one of the largest celebrations of artistic diversity and inclusivity in these islands. We are proud to be bringing it to new venues across Northern Ireland so that more people can enjoy the performances and ideas that these incredible artists have to offer.”

Events will be held not only in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry but also in Omagh, Strabane, Downpatrick, Enniskillen and Cookstown.

The University of Atypical, a disabled-led arts charity, is celebrating its 30th year of supporting and developing the talent of d/Deaf, disabled, and neurodiverse artists and reaching wider audiences through access and inclusion.

The organisation started the Bounce Arts Festival in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad and this year it is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Department for Communities, Belfast City Council, The Ireland Funds, The National Lottery Communities Fund and The Santander Foundation.

Patricia Lavery, Head of Community Arts & Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: 

“We are committed to supporting the work of d/Deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent artists. The Bounce Arts Festival offers an important platform to shine a light on work from these amazing artists. Congratulations to University of Atypical for curating a terrific programme for Bounce this year, which features some of the most talented artists from Northern Ireland and beyond. I would encourage everyone to go along and enjoy this exciting and inspirational festival which is simply unmissable.”

Among those performing will be internationally renowned performance poet Alice McCullough, who has had an amazing year as poet in residence at Disability Rights California, studying at the Gaulier school in Paris, and being named by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland as a Major Individual Artist Awardee. She will be hosting, Experi-Mental, a night of exciting new work-in-progress by neurodivergent and disabled artists including New York-based Mari Crawford, who is the first recipient of the University of Atypical’s Art and Disabilty Award at the Edinburgh Fringe for her one woman show. She will be joined by writer and comedian Simon Jay and poet Nathan-Elout Armstrong.

The University of Atypical gallery will host the latest work of visual artist and academic Una Walker, famed for her site-specific installations, which have been exhibited in the UK, Ireland, Europe and internationally for more than 30 years. Her latest work, ‘Dreaming of a Village’ will reimagine the historic landscape outside her rural Co Down home, using video, drawing and local stones.

The festival will also feature father and son County Clare team Fionnathan with their show We All Have Down Syndrome. The duo made up of Fionn Crombie Angus and Jonathan Angus bring comedy, stories and music about navigating the world through a disability lens. They will be supported by husband and wife team Will and Tracy McLean showcasing music crafted during their family journey after Will’s recovery from stroke.

Other highlights this year include:

  • A takeover of the Crescent Arts Centre by Open Arts featuring the community choir, visual arts groups, creative writers and dance group Luminous Soul.
  • Comedy at the front of the Guildhall in Derry/Londonderry with Derry Ones – What’s the Craic?! Stage Beyond, the award-winning theatre company for adults with learning disabilities, brings their famous puppet show to town for a stellar line-up of fun sketches with a Derry theme
  • Dramability, an inclusive workshop, will be held at Down Arts Centre in Downpatrick
  • A panel discussion on building a culture of creativity at the Ardhowen Theatre will be Chaired by artist Noelle McAlinden who is the High Sheriff of Fermanagh.
  • Inclusive pop-up magical mystery arts workshop at Strule Arts Centre in Omagh
  • For the Love of Mary at the Alley Theatre in Strabane is a bilingual autobiographical journey to find the Virgin Mary performed by spoken word artist Mel Bradley.
  • Brain Injury Matters and Kids in Control/Blue Chevy Adult Physical Theatre Project presents a physical theatre performance that captures the lived experience of nine people who have survived a catastrophic brain injury,
  • Cutting edge audio visual artist Paul Moore will provide an immersive VR experience, where body, nature and technology collide to provide a glimpse into an alternative reality that is not to be missed.

The festival will end with a big wrap party at the Black Box in Belfast featuring a five-piece alt rock band, The High End Dead and the Black Moon Disco.

For more information on all shows and to book tickets, go to