Our culture recovery story

What Deaf Explorer did during Covid-19 Restrictions to keep going and connect with our artists and audiences: Deaf explorer went online, with Square Eye Festival in December 2020 and May 2021. The festival was a mix of panel discussions and artist commissions. On facebook we had amazing audience figures. We made strong connections with deaf artists and deaf audiences.

We also supported wellbeing with a Make-up masterclass and encouraged online audiences to get cooking with Scott Garthwaite and Lucy Clark.

To bring BSL to drag we organised an online drag course with Martin Fox-Roberts.

All this work was made possible by Arts Council Englands, Cultural Recovery Fund, with Funding from Creative Black Country, Heriot-Watt University and Big Lottery.

What Deaf Explorer did when restrictions lifted

In August 2021, Deaf Explorer got back to producing Deaf Artists work.

photo Graeme Braidwood

Billy Read made a dance show for the outdoors in an urban city centre, in Stoke on Trent.

Deaf dancer Billy Read had spent lockdown making online street dance tutorials for deaf children across the UK, funded by Deaf Sport UK and online workshops for schools funded by Arts Connect. During Deaf Awareness week Billy Read appeared on Blue Peter because a young viewer believed Billy Read deserved a Blue Peter badge for all his hard work and inspiring deaf children to dance.

Before lockdown, Billy Read did a successful dance residency in 2019 with Frontline Dance. In summer of 2021, Billy Read was supported by Frontline Dance to get a commission at the outdoor festival Appetite in Stoke on Trent.

During August Billy collaborated with Areil Fund and recent graduate from Wolverhampton University Ben Randall. Together they made “Forbidden identity” a new show mixing dance and non verbal story-telling. Deaf VV artist Duffy kickstared the work in the studio and Johnny Autin, a Birmingham based hearing choreographer shaped the work for the outdoors. Audiences loved the story about a young deaf person growing up. It is hoped Billy will tour his new show to Festivals in 2022.

Rinkoo Barpaga maintains social distancing with Luke and Jake with Richard Hayhow Artistic Director of Open theatre

Deaf Stand up Comic Rinkoo Barpaga collaborates with Open Theatre’s Artistic Director Richard Hayhow.

Rinkoo Barpaga want to tell the  story of French Black clown Rafael Padilla (Chocolat), & his white clown partner George Foottit (Foottit) who were a popular performing clown duo in France in the late 19th Century.

In August, Theatre maker and stand up comic Rinkoo Barpaga began work in the studio. His aim to make a performance about the first Black clown called Chocolate. Rinkoo collaborated with Richard Hoyhow who is an amazing theatre director who has for many years supported actors with a Learning Disability and on the autistic spectrum to take to the stage with “Open Theatre”. Rinkoo Barpaga made very funny performances with West Midlands based actors Jake Jarvis and Luke Greenwood.

Corey Campbell joined Rinkoo’s artistic team. Corey is an actor/director from Strictly Arts. We now await the next stage of Research and Development and hope you will be able to see this show in 2022. This work made possible with a grant from Arts Council England and a seed commission for outdoor work from Deda Derby, who hope to support Rinkoo Barpga with the production and touring of a new outdoor work..