7 Feb 2017

Palestine & The Joys of Flying

pales1

“Currently, I am on the plane to Munich where I ought to catch a connecting flight direct to Manchester. The problem is, this plane was delayed at take-off so I have every chance of missing the connection. I will have to wait and see what they will do….

I am full of a range of emotions after spending the last 4 days in Palestine and travelling to Ramallah via Israel. The contrast between the two places is vast and check points and walls make for sober viewing. As you travel across the dividing line, the roads and buildings change from super modern and in good repair to potholed and incomplete.


Rachel Gadsden talking about her work.

I am adding my dreams to those of the Palestinian and Israeli people who hope that one day this conflict will end – it is a hope that sustains them and I hope that the world will help both nations to end the standoff to bring lasting peace.

Now for an account of my work – I was based in Ramallah, just 6km north of Jerusalem at the Palestine Red Crescent Society [PRCS]. It is a wonderful place and full of so many diverse people and organisations; I was very pleased that the ‘Disability Arts: Challenges and Successes’ event took place in that location. It was the first time ever that a series of debates on disability and the arts had been held in Palestine with people coming from across the country – except Gaza as the people there are not allowed to leave under any circumstances. Many disabled people were present, in such great numbers. We heard presentations from government initiatives through to the work of social activists and how they are using the arts for social change. Rachel Gadsden and I each spoke about our work and the impact we set out to deliberately achieve through basing our work on the social model of disability to explain the political context of our work. This had positive impact, as some key policy makers wish to discuss this further, so I will be looking forward to assisting in some new developments. I was especially pleased about the conversations we had with disabled people and the examples of their work. The rest of the seminar was taken up with talks about arts therapy models – they do have an important role in current developments, but I found it slightly reverting to the past and not looking at the development of artists as leaders and the potential of disability and Deaf arts. Trying to explain about the lived experience and cultural identity as dis/deaf people, indicates that there is still a way to go – but the talks have begun. I wish I could have done some more in depth workshop sessions – but maybe next time.


The Palestine Red Crescent Society. (The Seminar Venue)

Watching Rachel Gadsden work was amazing – she is so gifted, using the drawing workshop to help identify barriers and issues facing each person. It was deeply moving. I actually produced four live Facebook videos from the sessions and one was particularly emotional. I felt that I was invading lives but they assured me that they want their stories to be told.

The next day it was arranged for us to visit the newly built Palestine Museum, the Director, Dr Mahmoud Hawari, has spent most of his career in the UK and returned to establish this Museum of Contemporary and Traditional Palestinian life. They have no permanent collection as yet and made this an opening statement on their political position – he is a visionary and we even talked about getting a disability event/exhibition planned for the future. It is a beautiful and quite accessible building and when it opens properly in September this year, it will be a jewel in Palestine’s crown. I so hope we meet again and also link some of my contacts with them.


The view from the Palestine Museum.

A government disability audit recently claimed that just 7% of Palestine’s population of around 4.5 million are Disabled people – around 50% of these are thought to be disabled through the conflict: mines, shrapnel, bombs, bullets etc. I do however think there are many more disabled people, as there are still some negative opinions of disability and huge stigma – some are kept hidden at home and never allowed out, most never achieve in school or will ever work. Women have a particularly hard time as most disabled people will not get married, therefore they will lack status and respect in society. Also, institutionalisation is a real issue for many disabled people – one wonderful woman I met says her childhood was stolen and that she feels that it was like a prison sentence.

There is a will to change things and change them fast. The British Council has made disability arts one of its top five priorities and I applaud them, as they are helping to change issues by supporting local artists, NGO’s and linking them with artists and organisations from the UK. It is really making an impact and to witness and be a part of it first hand was a privilege.

I also met other key people and will be chasing and linking up the contacts once back in the office, doesn’t look like it will be tomorrow!

My last visit was such an exciting one, Suha, the British Council Officer who made the whole event happen arranged for me to be taken to Bethlehem to meet a theatre group. They have worked in Liverpool with Brouhaha and Contacting the World in 2008 at LIPA – so we knew the same people. They have been working to create work by and with disabled people and their approaches are very ground breaking. One exciting development is that Bethlehem will be City of Culture in 2020, so we are now in talks about the possibility of a mini festival being programmed to link us and them with DaDaFest International. The group is headed up by a formidable woman, Marina, and I am thrilled to have met her – the energy and exuberance she brings is infectious. We are going to start talking ASAP via Skype.


The “I Love Bethlehem” sign and Ruth Gould.

After this last meeting I had my one tourist opportunity – to visit the church of the Nativity. Such a pivotal point for Christians around the world and I was glad of the opportunity. I also went up close to the walls that separate the two nations and heard more stories which made me so, so sad.


A wall and watchtower in Bethlehem.

Then off to the airport: this time we drove through three check points and were only pulled over as we entered the airport compound. Even though we were in a car with diplomatic licence plates, the driver and I had our passports and identity info taken away. It felt like an age before they came back and then I was questioned as to why I was in Israel. It felt sad as I knew I couldn’t say I had been to Palestine, so said I was working with the British Council with disability arts events, this wasn’t a lie exactly, but I daren’t mention that it was in Ramallah as I am sure they would have kept us longer.

At the airport it took ages to get through security. I had my passport checked three times and when going through the scanners the customs people were unhappy that I have no medical evidence about my titanium implants – they kept saying I should have medical documentation to prove it. After 30 mins waiting, my passport was taken away again: a young security guard eventually came with a wand and only checked my arms – totally ignoring my knee. Bit of a waste of time really. Then just when I thought it was all done – I had to go through yet another passport control point to get to the duty free section. There were long queues and I was expecting the worst. I handed the passport through the window and the customs man said, ‘Oh, you are from Liverpool. I love Liverpool’. I asked if he had been, to which he said no, but follows Liverpool Football Club, mentioning Suarez! He then said “I hope you have enjoyed your stay” and passed back my passport and slip to leave the country! It must have been less than a minute! It was a nice end to what I deem the worst aspect of travelling.

I will let you know how I get on at Munich….

I’m on the plane – just! We arrived with 15mins to spare and as we disembarked there were lots of staff ready to tell us which gate to run to – mine was H24 – I hobbled as fast as I could along eight long corridors, then had to go through the full whack of security again! I was starting to lose it, I haven’t had a cardio workout for some time and could hardly breathe or talk. After taking off my boots, explaining about the implants trying to see if I would still make it on time, the customs persons had to ‘wand’ every inch of me – including the soles of my feet. Once cleared, I tried to gather my things as quickly as possible and promptly fell flat on my face. The shame. But, I was up in a flash and racing to the gate, being the last to arrive. The airline staff could see I was losing it and helped me calm down, I gave them my boarding pass and I’m now on the flight – breathing steady, pulse – 89 beats a minute and decreasing. I am getting too old for this. Lesson of the day – don’t do any more connecting flights. Pulse now 74 as I’m nearly home! :)”

Ruth Gould MBE


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'Footsteps Quiet in Shadow' - Ben Lunn tells us more!

With DaDaFest-supported concert, ‘Footsteps Quiet in Shadow’ coming up, 4 March at The Bluecoat, we asked composer, Ben Lunn, to tell as a bit more about the line-up. 

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31 Jan 2020
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Marshmallows and #SquadGoals

Find out what we learned from our Rushton/Raw day of events.

 

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13 Jan 2020
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Call Out: DaDaFest Advisors

We are looking for D/deaf or disabled individuals with a passion for the arts to join our group of advisors and help shape the future of DaDaFest. Could this be you?

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29 Oct 2019
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DaDaFest and Unity Theatre announce exciting new partnership

DaDaFest is delighted to announce a brand new partnership with innovative, radical and pioneering Liverpool arts venue, Unity Theatre.

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29 Oct 2019
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DaDaFest Artist Self-Development Programme

We are excited to be launching a programme of workshops and one-to-one coaching sessions for artists who identify as disabled or D/deaf*.

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28 Oct 2019
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Dr Erin Pritchard chairs panel discussion at Disabled Women in Arts and Culture: Who’s Calling the Shots?

We are delighted to have Dr Erin Pritchard act as chair of the panel discussion of our landmark event.

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30 Aug 2019
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Artistic Director Ruth Gould leaves DaDaFest

After almost 20 years of service, Ruth Gould is leaving DaDaFest to move on to pastures new. 

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29 May 2019
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Introducing…DaDaFest Ensemble!

Our very first DaDaFest Scratch is fast approaching and in the lead up, we would like to introduce you to some of the talented artists who will be performing at the event.

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1 May 2019
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DaDaFest Scratch

DaDaFest is launching a new programme of events over the next three years to celebrate the best of disability art in the North West. 

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30 Apr 2019
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Pupils invited to music premiere!

Free live music experience direct to the classroom. 

DaDaFest Ensemble to perform new composition, live from Liverpool Philharmonic.

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25 Jan 2019
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Get a taste of the creative industries

As part of DaDaFest’s Artist Development Programme, we are offering ten placements within the creative industries. 

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24 Jan 2019
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Introducing our new Chair…Sally Gannon

We are delighted to introduce Sally Gannon as the new Chair on our Board of Trustees. Sally joins us from Liverpool John Moores University where she is Strategic Planning Officer.

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22 Jan 2019
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We’ve opened registration to our Artist Development programme

We can help you achieve your goals.

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10 Dec 2018
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DaDaFest International 2018 hailed a success

Thousands of visitors from across the UK and beyond experienced the five-week DaDaFest International which took place at host venues across the Liverpool City Region.

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5 Dec 2018
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Artistic Director Ruth Gould appointed as one of five new Patrons to Graeae Theatre Company

We are delighted to announce that our Artistic Director, Ruth Gould, has been appointed as one of five new Patrons to Graeae Theatre Company.

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3 Dec 2018
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International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2018

We are delighted to be parterning with Liverpool City Council to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a day which aims to promote an understanding of disability issues.

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27 Nov 2018
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DaDaFest International 2018 Emerging Artists: Destination Sound

Destination Sound is a platform for new music celebrating the talent and creativity of Disabled musicians.

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20 Nov 2018
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DaDaFest International 2018 Emerging Artists: Jordan Connerty

There are some amazing emerging artists who are performing new work as part of DaDaFest International 2018. We are following a few of them as they make their way to the stage.

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20 Nov 2018
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Acclaimed disability arts organisation DaDaFest work with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Performers visited patients at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to stage a special dance performance organised by DaDaFest.

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20 Nov 2018
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Francesca Martinez visits two North West venues as part of DaDaFest International 2018

The award-winning comedian brings her What The **** Is Normal show to Liverpool and St Helens

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31 Oct 2018
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A handy at-a-glance festival event list

We've put together a handy list of all the events that are taking place throughout DaDaFest International 2018.

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31 Oct 2018
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A festival chat with our Artistic Director

We sat down with our Artistic Director, Ruth Gould, to have a chat about DaDaFest International 2018. 

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25 Sep 2018
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DaDaFest announce their festival programme

DaDaFest International returns to Liverpool City Region venues this autumn showcasing a series of high-quality cutting-edge work.

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28 Jun 2018
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Announcing...Sir Ken Robinson!

We are delighted to have on board a new patron.

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28 Jun 2018
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DaDaFest International 2018 announced with performance by Jess Thom

Award-winning disability and D/deaf arts organisation DaDaFest announces Merseyside wide festival this November.

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26 Apr 2018
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Performers and theatre makers call out

Unity Theatre, Action Transport Theatre and DaDaFest are working together to create a high quality seasonal show based on the story of Beauty and the Beast for family audiences in December 2018.

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16 Oct 2017
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Sir Bert Massie CBE

Last night we heard the sad news that Sir Bert Massie has passed away.

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13 Sep 2017
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Daphne Does Good at DaDaFest

Agony Aunt, Daphne will be the very, very special guest at DaDaFest’s Past, Present & Possibilities at the Bluecoat

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22 Aug 2017
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Introduction from Ruth Gould

Greetings friends, comrades, supporters and visitors. 

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14 Jul 2017
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Past, Present & Possibilities.

Celebrating 300 years of the Bluecoat

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29 Jun 2017
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Creative UK Prosper Programme

A good week just got even better! 

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23 Jun 2017
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Thank you Chris…

It was with great sadness that I learnt of Chris Hammond’s passing this week

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14 Jun 2017
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DaDaFest in the Spotlight

Barry Avison featured on ITV’s Good Morning.

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25 May 2017
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Congratulations Ruth

Awarded an Honorary Fellowship by  Liverpool John Moores University

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25 May 2017
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Call Out For Bluecoat 300

DaDaFest Mini-Commissions

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30 Mar 2017
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My trip to Yerevan, Armenia

I was lucky to be offered to opportunity to visit Yerevan in Armenia.

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1 Mar 2017
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Young Disabled People Putting Together Our Arts Festival

"If art, all art, is concerned with truth, then a society in denial will not find much use for it."

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24 Feb 2017
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Young DaDa Ensemble Project Video

Watch a fantastic new video from our pioneering Young DaDa Ensemble 

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7 Feb 2017
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Palestine & The Joys of Flying

Currently, I am on the plane to Munich where I ought to catch a connecting flight direct to Manchester.

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25 Jan 2017
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3 Days in Ramallah, Palestine

Two days in and I am in love

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25 Jan 2017
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Under the Skin with Jenny Sealey MBE

Under the Skin is a series of interviews conducted during DaDaFest International 2016. 

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23 Jan 2017
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Under the Skin with John McGrath

Under the Skin is a series of interviews conducted during DaDaFest International 2016.

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18 Jan 2017
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My Time at DaDaFest

Rebecca Andrews our Digital Marketing Apprentice finished her apprenticeship this month.

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5 Jan 2017
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Young DaDaFest 2017 Open Call

Showcasing the creativity of disabled and deaf young people from Merseyside.

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1 Nov 2016
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Respect Project 2016 Open Workshops

Are you a young woman aged 16 or over? Would you like to have your voice heard?

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26 Oct 2016
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Young DaDaFest 2017 Announcement

Young DaDaFest will return bigger and better than ever for 2017!

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16 Aug 2016
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DaDaFest Receives Funding

DaDaFest is delighted to announce that we have received a grant from Big Lottery Fund for “DaDaFest Rookies”.

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27 Jul 2016
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Young DaDaFest Perform

I was really excited to see Young DaDaFest

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12 Jul 2016
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Young DaDaFest 2016: Music Review

Guest reviewer Tammy Reynolds sums up her thoughts on the first of this year’s Young DaDaFest events

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3 May 2016
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Xander & The Peace Pirates

Xander & The Peace Pirates Perform for our Young DaDa Ensemble

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26 Apr 2016
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Young DaDaFest 2016 Announcement

Award Nominated Young DaDaFest Expands into Trio of Events 

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25 Nov 2015
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DaDaFest Hosts First Ever Rushton Social Justice Lecture

DaDaFest Hosts First Ever Rushton Social Justice Lecture

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17 Feb 2015
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Young DaDaFest 2015 – Open Call

This year’s Young DaDaFest will be happening at the Everyman Theatre.

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21 Jan 2015
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Watch Recipe for Scouse Online Now

Young DaDa Recipe for Scouse Film is available to watch online.

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