The Victorian Labor Government has announced a new arts festival called Alter State, which will take place in Arts Centre Melbourne in September this year. The festival aims to champion works by Deaf and Disabled creatives.

Alter State Festival

Alter State Festival. Image Supplied.

“Improving access, employment opportunities and participation for people with disability are integral to making Victoria a more inclusive place to live, work and enjoy through exciting events like Alter State,” said Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Colin Brooks.

The experiences of those living with disabilities forms the core idea of the festival, creating opportunities for artists to make connections and collaborations, whilst forming an accessible community of creatives.

The program has been developed by creative lead Caroline Bowditch, CEO of Arts Access Victoria, and Arts Centre Melbourne, alongside the festival’s Foundation Artists, Victorian disability activist and writer Carly Findlay, WA-based dancer/choreographer Joshua Pether and New Zealand/Aotearoa dancer Rodney Bell.

It will feature local theatre-makers, including members of Polyglot who will collaborate with UK-based interactive theatre company Oily Cart on a production called When the World Turns, which has sustainability at its heart and is made both for and with young people who experience the world through sensory means. The festival will also feature a unique sensory workshop series for young creatives titled Come And make Performances (CAMP).

“It is so exciting to be launching the 2022 Alter State program. I feel that Arts Access Victoria’s contributions to this project have brought a different perspective, raised different questions, and bought new voices and skills into the conversation,” said Bowditch. “I am hoping audiences will experience a welcome that allows anybody to feel a sense of belonging. Authentic stories and voices will be shared through incredible art.” 

Performers from Women’s Circus will present outdoor performances around Arts Centre Melbourne throughout the festival, and Rodney Bell will weave personal stories through theatre and dance in his work Meremere.

Additionally, The Other Film Festival, in collaboration with the Australian Centre of Moving Image, will work with Altered State to showcase works on film.

“Alter State is about showcasing the extraordinary talent Deaf and Disabled communities bring to our creative industries, putting artists at the helm of a new festival that raises the bar on inclusive and accessible events for all,” said Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos.

The festival will prioritise accessibility, presenting works with captioning and Auslan and New Zealand Sign Language interpreters, as well as providing quiet spaces throughout the festival’s venues.

The Alter State Festival will run 12 September – 9 October 2022. More information can be found at

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