Billy Read Somebody Watching Me – Photo Credit Graeme Braidwood

Deaf Explorer reveals the as-yet unheard world of artists.
We transform the autonomy and destiny of D/deaf artists. We forge radical approaches and creative opportunities to produce contemporary D/deaf culture.

Deaf Explorer CIC are creative producers empowering Deaf artists. In 2019  our work resulted in Deaf artists working for 598 days of arts activity, & hearing artists employed for another 283 days. The projects involved 3,232 Deaf participants in sessions in schools & Deaf spaces, 2,900 of these were young Deaf people.
Deaf explorer’s community development work always begins with Deaf artists, leading the way. The aim of ‘Sign Criminal’ by deaf street dancer Billy Read, was that he gained the skills to be artistic leader and choreographer. The scaffolding for Billy’s cherography was regular 1 to 1 sessions with a hearing choreographer. Preparation sessions with hearing expertise, gave Billy Read much greater understanding of how to collaborate in the rehearsal room with hearing artists. Our goal is to create deaf leaders with the artistic competency to work in the arts industry. Our success is dependent on evaluation and implementing our findings and recommendations from all  the people involved in our projects. The result of implementing a high level of access can have an astonishing impact on audiences. ‘Sign Criminal’ was presented at Deaf Cultural Centre in Ladywood; 75 people attended the performance. Rob Punton, Disability poet and consultant said, “I don’t know sign language but I understood every moment of the performance. It was powerful and emotional.” Sonny Nwachukwu, says, “I truly believe that the dance show appealed to young Deaf people, I looked around and saw the smiles, the interest and the eagerness from everyone but especially the youngen’s. It actually got me really emotional at one stage as I saw the inspiration.” 
Following the presentation of ‘Sign Criminal’  at Deaf Cultural Centre, we programmed, Rinkoo Barpaga’s story of South Asian Deaf living in Britain, similar  to our access support for artist Billy Read the process for producing  Rinkoo Barpaga’s “Made in India Britain”  was detailed, making the rehearsal process fully accessible. Our aim is that deaf artists fully understand the creative process, making up for the lack of formal education in the arts. Rinkoo benefited immensely. For example, Rinkoo was not sure that audiences would be interested in the darker side of his life, Rinkoo would never expose his bad experiences in a stand up comedy performance.  The impact on audiences resulting from Rinkoo’s courage, are shown in feedback from audiences in Birmingham, 32 BSL sign language users attended the show, 21 from diverse backgrounds. They said, “Your story is amazing”, “It is visual – flowed from one story to the next. You had a theme running through that linked your experiences”, “Rinkoo told his story with an engaging mix of humour, characterisation and first-person narrative. Really Effective, Really Enjoyable.” 

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