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Over 300 disabled young people to take over Tate Exchange for a festival of creativity

Over 300 D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse young people to take over Tate Exchange for a festival of creativity.
‘I Am At Tate Exchange Festival’ will form part of the 2020 Tate Exchange programme at Tate Modern
Students and teachers taking part in I Am At Tate Exchange Festival
From 24-28 March, Tate Exchange will play host to over 300 D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse young people. Over five days, they will lead a variety of creative workshops, performances, and activities – showcasing their talents, opinions and ideas.
Now in its fourth year, I Am At Tate Exchange Festival is a partnership between creative learning specialists A New Direction and over 30 special education settings from across London. The festival works to advocate for richer cultural opportunities for D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse children and young people, while making disability more visible in London’s cultural venues, and demonstrating that children of all abilities can play an active role in London’s culture.
This year, the festival will explore the theme of ‘Power’ and will feature more student-led activity than ever before. Press are invited to join us for the opening day of the festival on 24 March, which will include:

  • A ‘power of kindness’ parade through Tate’s Turbine Hall, where students will hand out handmade gifts to gallery visitors
  • A musical performance exploring the multiplicity of self
  • Dramatic monologues in collaboration with Graeae Theatre'I am marvellous' sign at the Tate Exchange Festival of Creativity
  • Clay making inspired by Anthony Gormley
  • Student-led cape making workshops, inspired by the patterns of Ian Wright and Yayoi Kusama
  • Non-verbal 10-minute talks, delivered by students in the Tate gallery

Students have also been working with a number of disabled and non-disabled artists in the lead up to the festival to create work which will be exhibited in the space. This year we will also be joined by a cohort of nine Festival Assistants, all of whom are on a work placement through my AFK – a national charity supporting disabled young people into work. The Festival Assistants will be supporting students throughout the week and engaging with the public.
Our work at I Am At Tate Exchange is underpinned by the following themes:

  • Access and inclusion in the cultural sector: A New Direction hopes the festival can provide a model for other cultural organisations to address issues around accessibility, representation and inclusion
  • Representation and rights of disabled young people: we believe that all disabled young people have the right to access the same opportunities and experiences as their non-disabled peers
  • Support for SEND educators and settings: it is well documented that SEND education is currently in a state of crisis, with funding stretched to breaking point. In this climate, it is more important than ever for other sectors to step in and help support some of the most vulnerable young people in society

The festival is part of this year’s Tate Exchange programme – an ambitious ‘open experiment’ which allows other organisations and members of the public to participate in Tate’s creative process, running events and projects on site and using art as a way of addressing wider issues in the world around us.
Steve Moffitt, A New Direction CEO, said:
‘When we started I Am At Tate Exchange Festival four years ago, we were working with six schools. This year we will welcome over 30 schools into the space, and for the first time have been unable to accommodate everyone due to exceptional demand. This illustrates how important this work is and the appetite for what we’re doing. I’m hopeful that we will soon be seeing ‘I Am’ events popping up in more outstanding cultural venues across London.’
Frances Morris, Director, Tate Modern said:
‘Spending time at A New Direction’s I Am Festival impressed on me what a truly wonderful initiative it is. Seeing so many young people – many of whom had not been to Tate before – having the time of their lives has been such an amazing and humbling experience. In a time where increasing numbers of students with SEND are being forgotten, projects like the I Am Festival are only becoming more vital, and we at Tate are immensely proud to play our part in it.’

For more information
Please contact Jim Beck at A New Direction or 020 7608 8977 / 0788 580 7784
To find out more about Tate Exchange please visit

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