The Asia Pacific Festival of Artists with Disabilities successfully celebrated extraordinary talents

The True Colours Festival, the first ever performing arts festival of music, dance and arts in the Asia-Pacific region, took place in Singapore City from 23 to 25 March 2018. During the three day long Festival there were more than 150 performances by the most talented artists with disabilities from Japan, China, Indonesia, Korea, The Philippines, Malaysia, Micronesia, Thailand, Singapore, India, Cambodia, New Zealand, Australia, Nepal, along with guest artists from the United Kingdom and Canada.  More than 5000 people had the chance to watch and listen. 


The festival venues were the Singapore Indoor Stadium and OCBC Square. Multimedia concerts took place every day at the indoor space, which offered the audience and interpreters a never-before-experienced sensation achieved by accessible and adapted space and sensory-friendly sound levels and lights. 


The launch ceremony on March 23 2018 gathered together artists with disabilities, disabled peoples’ associations, non-governmental organizations, academia, the private sector and UN agencies. The President of The Republic of Singapore, Ms Halimah Yacob, attended this outstanding and historic event in the Asia-Pacific region. 


The events within the True Colours Festival of Artists with Disabilities provided an opportunity to raise awareness around persons with disabilities in socio-cultural terms and to change negative impressions, stereotypes and discrimination towards artists with disabilities. Festival activities were targeted at leading people towards a better understanding of different disabilities, creating contact points where perceptions could change, and giving to disability-related organizations the opportunity for access to a wider audience.


The outdoors Festival Village – known familiarly as the Enabling Village- offered participants many perspective-changing activities; among others, live performances exploring dance  as a form of non-verbal communication –beyond disability; dialogues in the dark, which offered a glimpse of what blindness means; open dialogue spaces to learn about arts and disabilities;  ‘paralympic sports try-out’;  and festivals showing short films. 


The Artistes Open Dialogue event was held on 24 March 2018 and was organized by UNESCO together with The Nippon Foundation. The dialogue was moderated by Mr Indrajit Banerjee, Director of Knowledge Societies Division, Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO. The dialogue offered an excellent opportunity to discuss with artists who have disabilities the current situation around socio-cultural rights in the Asia-Pacific region and worldwide; to identify enabling factors around existing challenges, as well as brainstorming about necessary improvements for recommendation  to policy makers and UNESCO’s Member States in terms of bringing to bear policies which support the inclusion of artists with disabilities. The Open Dialogue concluded with an Outcome Statement which will contribute to the full implementation of the relevant articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This Outcome Statement document will be available soon on the UNESCO website. 


The Singapore Festival was, in summary, an outstanding professional artists’ performance event - a sign of the intensification of efforts by the international community to define, promote and enforce the rights of persons with disabilities.  


Right here you can relish once more the talents of singers, dancers and musicians from different cultures and countries, united by the joy and power of music: