New performing arts studio for disabled artists opens in Belfast as showcase festival turns 10

A new performing arts studio for artists with disabilities has opened in Belfast city centre.

he Ledger Studio is named after Chris Ledger, the late CEO of Atypical University. She has worked tirelessly in her career to champion the arts and culture of people with disabilities, bringing them into the mainstream.

Today, his memory is commemorated in this new studio, which provides an accessible space for Deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists.

It will be one of the venues used for the 10th Bounce Arts Festival, the only festival solely dedicated to showcasing artwork created by people with disabilities in Northern Ireland.

Paula Clarke is a deaf artist whose work will come to life on Saturday with the Blue Chevy Ensemble.

“I have so many memories of my old friend who passed away recently. She was an amazing artist, she was an expert in her field. She offered so much advice to me and also to other deaf communities and to other artists with disabilities over the years,” she explained.

“This new studio, we’re going to be the first performance to kick off the Bounce festival, it gives me goosebumps, I appreciate the opportunity so much.

“Inclusiveness is really important because I’m deaf and I’m a performer and an artist, I’ve been for many years and I feel there are barriers there. I think it’s great to to have this space to work with people with disabilities, neurodiversity and different backgrounds and it’s great to have this inclusive environment that breaks down barriers.

This is good news for Belfast’s creative scene following the devastating fire in the Cathedral Quarter which robbed small business owners of their livelihoods and led to dozens of people marching to demand better support for city ​​artists.