Arts Festival : Awakenings 2008 (Australia)


From October 17 – 26, 2008, Horsham in Western Victoria will come alive with the joy and wonder of Australia's longest running and only regional disability arts festival – Awakenings – an annual 10 day festival that draws more than 850 special performers and participants from around Australia and the globe. 

In the arts there is only ABILITY!

The Awakenings performing arts program offers opportunities in dance, drama, comedy, poetry, music, and is complemented by a number of workshops in a range of arts skills, plus professional development training for Artistic Directors and volunteers (First Step Weekend and Awakenings Breakfast Forum).

Visual arts, photographic exhibitions and competitions, outdoor adventures, the Awakenings Ball, an ecumenical church service and associated community fringe events add value to the program.


Artists from vast and diverse backgrounds and locations will present their work in visual arts, live musical and theatre performances, a street festival and many outdoor adventures during the festival. Horsham and the Wimmera community as a whole has embraced visiting festival performers, artists and carers for more than decade. It is again reaching out its collective arms in welcome.

This year’s festival, with Mt Arapiles, the Grampians and the sprawling Wimmera plainsas alluring backdrops, will feature hundreds of community events. Wimmera highlights during the week include performances by folk band My Friend the Chocolate Cake, a Rotary art touring program, and the Horsham Cup.

The festival welcomes and encompasses all levels of performance experience. Organisers strongly urge people to get involved, participate or attend performances by talented and professional actors and singers who are launching their careers at Awakenings before national and international tours.

A major art project at this year’s festival will involve the transformation of a large bus into an interactive art work that will tour the Wimmera to entertain and delight. Awakenings draws its inspiration from the likes of its patron and worldrenowned pianist David Helfgott, who believes that “in art there is only ability.”

The program also includes a breakfast conference with a quest speaker from Ark Regional Services, Wyoming, USA, and a forum with international drummer Andrew Hewitt who has cerebral palsy.

Workshops will include everything ‘arty’, from circus to comedy, drumming to dressups, wheelchair dancing to fourwheel driving. Horsham’s many cafes, hotels and venues will come alive with photo and art exhibitions and the outstanding acoustic and vocal sounds of talented musicians.


Most attractions are free of charge and appeal to a family audience and those behind the scenes urge everyone to bring ‘nanna and pa’. The festival’s grand finale after 10 days of celebration will be the Awakenings Ball featuring Celtic rock band Claymore. Hoola Hoop artist Asphyxia, who is profoundly deaf, will also provide entertainment.

Festival director Jacinda O’Sullivan said the festival’s vision was to be a world leader in ‘creative inclusion’ by delivering a nationally acclaimed regional arts festival that led to acceptance, inclusion and changes in the lives and communities of people of all abilities. Awakenings started in 1996 as an initiative of Wimmera Uniting Care.


The Awakenings festival connects people and changes lives… an opportunity to be amazed by performances in theatre, music, dance and song in the welcoming and warm Horsham community.” 
Scott Kenny, international wheelchair dancing champion and regular Awakenings visitor

For further information about Awakenings and to register your participation, visit their website, send an email to or phone the festival office on 03 5382 1919.

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