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Faces ethnic festival – 29–31.7.2005, Billnäs

The Faces Etnofestival took place again this year at the Billnäs ironworks area of Pohja commune. It is now being organised for the eighth time.
With 9,000 people participating in the festival, the visitor record was made this year.

Performers arrived at the festival from places as varied as Argentina, Sweden, South Africa, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Australia, and Russia. In addition, the faces of multicultural Finland were seen:
 people who have immigrated to Finland, as well as those born here, combined their skills in performances stretching from samba to salsa and from capoeira to surprising reggae sessions! The Faces festival included more dance and theatre performances this year than ever before.

A more accessible Faces festival

The TARU project had a large role in the Faces Etnofestival in summer 2005. The aim of TARU’s participation in the festival was to present the work of disabled artists but also to improve and chart the accessibility of the Faces festival with regard to both the public and the performing artists.

The festival presented professional culture and the art of disabled artists. The visitors had the chance to enjoy dance performances, music, performance art, and visual arts. The performers were chosen to represent many different disabilities and fields of art.

The artists included the wheelchair dancer Risto Lång. Dance group Taika-Tanssi joined us from Turku, representing dancers with or without disabilities. Their dance work was part of the disabled dance complex. Also, the wheelchair flamenco group Hecho A Mano contributed to the dancing segment.

Riitta Pasanen and her accompanist Jussi Hämäläinen attended to the music. Another musical performance was rendered by visually impaired Iiris Brocke and Riikka Hänninen.

Artist Pekka Luhta organised a performance workshop in co‑operation with the audience. He was assisted by four young artists. The producer for disabled TARU artists’ work, Ismo Helén, participated in Luhta’s performance. The performance discussed learning to live with the experience of disability that can be found in every one of us.

Visual arts were presented by textile artist Jenni‑Juulia Wallinheimo. Her works display strongly and with high artistic quality her way of experiencing the feelings of illness and disability. She was one of the six TARU artists who were given the Uusimaa Art Committee’s award in 2004.

The Faces common exhibition also included the work of Luhta. Pieces of his art provided sensitive dissertations on nature, depicted with drawing ink technique.
In addition to intolerance of other cultures, the Faces festival also aims to pay attention to other groups suffering from prejudices. For Faces 2003, platforms were built for physically challenged visitors, so that everyone really could have the possibility to see and enjoy the show on stage. The platforms will be part of the festival in the future, as well. Future festivals will strive to take different physical constraints more into consideration. The issues discussed include how the event could offer more to visually impaired visitors.

During the festival, TARU gained excellent material on accessibility. A guide is being prepared on the basis of the video and interview material, and co‑operation with the Finland Festivals organisation is about to begin.

The ‘Disabled artists on stage’ programme was broadcast on 28.9.2005’s TARU‑TV broadcast. The co‑operation with the Faces festival gave TARU and the accessibility theme more visibility through the publicity of Faces.