Enable Scotland’s Falkirk branch — an organisation that campaigns for equality and inclusion for those with learning disabilities — partnered with a myriad of volunteers to organise the third Awakening The Festival event, more than doubling their numbers since their debut 2018 festival.
The festival is designed to be fully accessible to the wider disabled community, with full BSL (British Sign Language) interpretation and a sensory area for those with autism and other additional sensory needs.
The event boasted performances from acts like DJ Def Beatz, Primes and Leona Rae, along with a wide range of family friendly activities, including trampolines, fairground rides and face painters. Disability and carer groups around the country, such as Creative Breaks and PlayPeace, organised trips to the festivities – with many praising Awakening’s success fulfilling its much-needed role as an inclusive music festival.
Maureen Kilgour – one of the event’s main organisers – stated that the event was not intended to “segregate” those with disabilities, but instead it was intended to “bring the experience of a festival to them in a safe environment where there’s no expectations and no judgement and they can just come and relax and enjoy it.”
In reference to the success of the event, Kilgour heralded “a real achievement” with the event’s popularity and thanked all who participated, whether as volunteers, acts, or simply participants in the day’s events.
Such a desire speaks to the steps still needed to be taken before festivals can be considered truly inclusive and welcoming for those whose needs can often be neglected during arts events. Now that events run during the pandemic have proven the feasibility of accommodations such as online livestreaming and BSL interpretation, there is the hope that progress will continue, rather than roll back once the pandemic becomes confined to memory.