Disability Programming Initiative


What is the new pitching initiative for people with disability?

Sydney Festival is committed to increasing the representation of artists with disability in the annual program. We believe we build stronger communities when a diverse range of artists tell their stories to a diverse range of audiences. As such, in December 2018 we launched a collaboration with Accessible Arts to invite artists with disability or who are Deaf to pitch projects for inclusion in the #SYDFEST program.

We received over 40 fantastic submissions for the 2020 Festival which were reviewed by an advisory team* who gave their time and expertise to ensure the criteria was met by all submissions..

What are we looking for?

  • Sydney Festival programs free events, visual arts, music, theatre, dance, large public installations, online events and everything in between
  • We look for exemplary artistic and cultural endeavours that are adventurous, international best practice and have something new to say to the world
  • We look for a strong aesthetic language, demonstrable artistic/cultural skills and an articulate story to tell
  • Successful projects often have multiple partners to help fund and present the work and a clearly articulated target audience

Who is eligible to submit?

Anyone with disability is eligible to submit.

The Disability Inclusion Act 2014 (DIA) defines disability as: “The long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which in interaction with various barriers may hinder the full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.” 

The term ‘disability’ can also include people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. The Deaf community may not always identify as having disability or impairment and may define themselves as a culturally and linguistically diverse group due to their use of Auslan (Australian Sign Language).

  • Sydney Festival works with artists who have a track record of creating/performing works
  • Artists with disability and/or organisations working with/for people with disability are encouraged to submit a pitch. Groups submitting need to be disability-led. This means you must demonstrate that the artistic process within the group is led by artists with disability
  • Festival Director Wesley Enoch (aided by the Sydney Festival programming team) will make the final decision based on the balance of projects, budgets and distribution

What should the submission include?

Each pitch should be 2–3 pages long (or the equivalent) and include:

  • a 2–3 paragraph detailed description of the project
  • 1–2 paragraphs on each of the key artists involved
  • the venue or type of venue you require
  • a list of presenting or funding partners and whether these are confirmed
  • a demonstrated sense of the target audience
  • a budget which includes pre-production costs, funding sources, possible box office/income sources, in-kind support, weekly running costs
  • images / video / media / article links of previous works or of developments of the work being pitched

When can I submit?

The submission deadline for 2021 has now passed.

We encourage you to contact Accessible Arts for support or guidance on any part of your submission or the pitching process:

Liz Martin, Arts Development and Training Manager, Accessible Arts / lmartin@aarts.net.au / 02 8379 3102 (Tue/Wed/Thurs)

*Many thanks to Alex Jones, Alison Richardson, Carly Findlay, Liz Martin and Riana Head-Toussaint for dedicating their time in March 2019 to ensuring the submissions received met our criteria of being disability-led and culturally competent.

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