‘Words Out’, a new book of poetry, prose and pictures produced by participants from the ground-breaking arts and disability organisation Open Arts was launched on 16th June as part of the Belfast Book Festival.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Open Arts inspires and supports the creativity and artistic development of disabled people through its weekly classes in a wide range of art forms – music, drama, dance, writing and visual art. Open Arts participants have a range of disabilities, including physical, sensory, learning disabilities and mental health illness.
Eileen Branagh, Chief Executive of Open Arts said:
“The dual meaning of the title ‘Words Out’ – facilitating disabled people to express themselves creatively and enabling them to be seen and heard by showcasing their talents – neatly encompasses what Open Arts has been doing for the past 30 years.
The themes of ‘Words Out’ include family, nature, love and creativity and the work is funny, moving, quirky, thought-provoking and fresh.”
Andrew Ward, member of the Open Arts Creative Writing group said:
“Open Arts is my creative and social lifeline and being part of the organisation has helped me enormously over the past couple of years. As well as the great support I receive in the writing class and opportunities to be part of projects like ‘Words Out’, the Open Arts team has also helped me to access my own funding. I now have mentors who are helping me to create my own work that explores my feelings about my diagnosis of autism later in life.”
Copies of ‘Words Out’ are available for free from 17 June from the Crescent Arts Centre on University Road, Linenhall Library on Donegall Square North and University of Atypical on Royal Avenue.