Chair and Keynote Speaker Biographies
Conference Chair: Mat Fraser Mat Fraser is a multi disciplinary performing artist & writer, working in theatre, film & TV, Live Art, cabaret, Neo sideshow & burlesque, conference chairing & public speaking. He was a rock drummer for 16 years before giving up his invisibility & complacency in mainstream arts to become a Disability Artist, which liberated his personal voice. In the last 16 years he has produced bodies of work ranging from blisteringly angry to cheeky and funny, ridiculous to sublime. Covering the history & re emergence of freak shows (he still works in Coney Island's Sideshow every Summer), contemporary issues to do with the disabled body and its continuing insufficient, inaccurate, and often insulting portrayal in mainstream arts, working a lot with images of sexuality and eroticism, Mat has always been fascinated by reactions to disabled performers throughout history and the present, and he continues this work as he matures. He is currently acting in the Irish soap opera "Fair City", finishing his 3rd play, developing a new version of Beauty and the Beast with his collaborative partner Julie Atlas Muz & in association with Phelim McDermot and Improbable Theatre Co, & continues to perform their adult cabaret show "The Freak & The Showgirl", and is working on re mounting his seminal Live Art piece “The Dinner party” for 2012, as the cultural landscape shifts towards more inclusion of disabled people and their artistic output is taken ever more seriously. In the last 15 years Mat has worked in as many different media as possible: TV documentaries and dramas, Film work, stage and radio, Live Art, cabaret and Burlesque, Circus, and Side shows. There’s been the television work in the documentaries he has made, such as his study of freak shows and disabled performers in history “Born Freak”, as well as an historical look at the drug his Mum took in “Happy Birthday Thalidomide”, and for his acting work in both feature films and shorter dramas, TV series etc, such as his leading role in the BBC’s feature “Every Time You Look At Me” (2004), the title role in the new cult action and first “Cripsploitation” film, “Unarmed But Dangerous” (2009), as well as having had a character part of Will in drama Channel 4’s, “Cast Off’s”. His own written stage work includes the award winning one man play “Sealboy:Freak” (2001/2), and the infamously bad taste musical comedy “Thalidomide!!A Musical” (2005/6). His current international touring solo comedy show “From Freak To Clique?” is a very funny, provoking, and often offensively funny look at the history of disability portrayal in the media. He is also a conference chair, host for one day business events, an after dinner and key note speaker, the title holder of the Erotic Award (U.K.) for Best Male Striptease artist 2007, an International burlesque MC, a writer of erotica, co presenter of the BBC’s award winning disability web site “Ouch” ’s monthly pod cast, and his website offers all the extra information you may need, with pictures and words, movies and songs. Please visit the Jack of all disability performance trades and master of none that is Mat Fraser at www.matfraser.co.uk
Key Note Speakers: Andrew Dixon Chief Executive, Creative Scotland Andrew Dixon started his career as administrator and youth projects director of the Major Road Theatre Company. After five years as an arts officer in Local Government he moved to Northern Arts, progressing to become its Chief Executive and was a member of the national executive team of Arts Council England for three years, before moving to his role promoting Newcastle, Gateshead as a world-class place to live, work, learn and visit. As Chief Executive of Northern Arts, Andrew raised the profile of the region through advocating for, and finding partnership funding for large projects such as the Baltic, the Angel of the North and The Sage Gateshead. He also initiated the merger of three funded film agencies to create the Northern Film and Media Agency. When the regional arts boards became part of Arts Council England, he oversaw the merger of Northern Arts into the new organisation and took a national leadership role, designing the Arts Council’s Regional Lottery programme, and chaired its trading company which runs the ‘Own Art’ scheme. As Chief Executive of Newcastle, Gateshead Initiative, he ran a public private sector partnership with 176 members, promoting cultural festivals and events and managing tourism and conference marketing for the ‘twin cities’. He led the bid to host the World Summit on Arts and Culture in Newcastle, Gateshead in 2006 and was Programme Director for the summit attracting delegates from 70 countries to the North East. He has been a tutor and mentor on the Clore Leadership Programme. Andrew was voted Alternative Businessman of the year in 2005 for his public sector work in North East England and in 2008 received an honorary doctorate from Northumbria University. Andrew has had various other non executive roles including Council of Durham Cathedral, Governor Gateshead College, Fundraising advisory board The Sage Gateshead, Development Committee Theatre Royal. Andrew has been Chief Executive of Creative Scotland since May 2010.
Jürg Koch MA LCDS London, Assistant Professor, Dance Program, UW Seattle Born in Switzerland Jürg has been working internationally as a performer, choreographer and dance educator for the past twelve years. Working with Candoco integrating disabled and non-disabled performers and dancing in contemporary repertory including works by Bill T Jones, Javier de Frutos and Fin Walker informs Jürg’s artistic and pedagogic outlook. In January 2004 he joined the faculty of the University of Washington as a lecturer and was appointed Assistant Professor, Summer 2008. As a performer Koch has been a company member of Diversions Dance Company in Wales UK and CandoCo Dance Company, London. Since moving to Seattle Koch has regularly appeared as a guest artist for the Chamber Dance Company and in contemporary works by artists including Amy O’Neil, Mark Haim and others. Koch’s choreographic work includes in house productions for the UW, Candoco and Diversions Dance Company in the UK as well as commissions for various dance companies and colleges. His choreography spans from solo repertoire (The Printer’s Tray) to community ensembles (the workshop) and collaborations with new media artists (David Prior, Iole Alessandrini, Lyn Goeringer). His choreographic work has been performed in Seattle, Europe and South Africa. As an educator Jürg focuses on contemporary dance technique and composition. He has a specialized interest in Integrated Dance and creating access to course content for a diversity of students. His conference presentations and publications predominantly address access to training and studio classes. Jürg Koch was co-organizer with AXIS Dance Company for the Physically Integrated Dance Summer Intensive August 2005. He has been organizing IDSI, the week long Integrated Dance Summer Intensive and Round Table, hosted in the UW Dance Program in Seattle for the past three consecutive years. He teaches regularly as a guest for the akar-studio and Beweggrund in Bern, Switzerland
Jenny Sealey Artistic Director, Graeae Jenny has been Graeae’s Artistic Director since 1997. In 2009, she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Honours and became an Artistic Advisor for Unlimited 2012 Festival. Theatre credits for Graeae include: Signs of a Star Shaped Diva; Static (coproduction with Suspect Culture); Whiter than Snow (co production with Birmingham Rep); Flower Girls (co-production with The New Wolsey, Ipswich). She directed and designed peeling by Kaite O’Reilly, Bent by Martin Sherman and Sarah Kane’s Blasted. Other theatre and outdoor credits include: Blood Wedding (Setagaya Public Theatre, Tokyo); Against the Tide (Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, Milton Keynes International Festival and The National Theatre’s Watch This Space); The Garden (GDIF). Recent productions include Graeae’s first musical Reasons to be Cheerful by Paul Sirett (co-production with The New Wolsey, Ipswich and Theatre Royal Stratford East) and Romeo and Juliet at Saitama Arts Theater Tokyo. The Iron Man adapted by Paul Sirett , a new outdoor venture using giant puppets for the first time in the company’s history and The Rhinestone Rollers (power chair dancing troupe) new show Wheels on Broadway were both part of 2011 Greenwich and Docklands International Festival. Jenny is one of the co directors of the Opening Ceremony for The Paralympics in 2012.