Lewisham will showcase eight innovative artistic projects from deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists as part of its year as London borough of culture.

The projects, which include a sign language hip hop drama, a café with sculptures to sit alongside and illuminated trees raising awareness of pollution, are receiving grants through the mayor’s Liberty Open Call fund and will be included in Lewisham’s 2022 programme.

The £70,000 Liberty fund was establishedto support and celebrate deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

The grants of between £3,000 and £10,000 will support the artists to research and develop their innovative works and hold workshops with the community.

Rachel Harris, Senior Producer at Lewisham Council said: “We are thrilled to welcome these eight inspiring projects to the Liberty Festival and to Lewisham’s forthcoming year of as the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture.

"Working across a range of art forms and techniques, we were impressed by the artists’ curiosity, rigour and playfulness, combining ambition and innovation with strong roots in our community.

"We look forward to supporting their vision to reflect, re-frame and re-shape our world in new and surprising ways.”

The winners of the grants are:

Bim Ajadi’s Here/Not Here – a hip hop drama exploring the relationship between British Sign Language, Krump dance, football and Visual Vernacular

Rachel Bagshaw’s Trio – a dance theatre production, combining choreography, projected captioning and live audio description

Stephen Bailey’s LIFE/dream – a stage exploration of repurposing traditional stories to respond to the lived experience of those with a perceived learning disability

D-Fuse’s Respira-Trees – an installation of trees that change colour as air pollution levels change

David Johnson’s Sanctuary Café - a café that includes life-sized concrete cast human figures to sit alongside

Teresa Howard’s GHOSTWOOD – an immersive virtual reality experience bringing an ancient oak woodland to life

Local Senses: mapping in Lewisham - a series of focused walks using tactile card forms and sensory reflections designed to capture smell, sound and terrain

Nina Thomas’s [Captioning Lewisham] – displaying captions of real or imagined experiences across public spaces in a walking trail

Linda Rocco, Liberty Creative Producer, said: “The volume and high standard of applications received for the Liberty Open Call demonstrate the ambition of the D/deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent community to produce high-quality artistic research with a strong sense of urgency.

"I'm excited to be supporting the eight winners in this journey towards developing their vision, while embedding accessible and inclusive practices as part of the process.

"A thank you also to those who did not make it to the final shortlist; may you never lose your creative spirit, and we wish you every success.”

Have you got a story for us? You can contact us here.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep up with all the latest news.

Sign up to our newsletters to get updates sent straight to your inbox.