Yangon cheers art at ASEAN Festival of Disabled Artists 2014


Altogether 168 disabled artists and performers from nine ASEAN member countries, except Brunei, gathered at Myoma Parade Ground in Yangon on Friday to showcase their artistic creations at the Immense Spectrum ASEAN Festival of Disabled Artists 2014.
The festival is not only a truly significant event for Myanmar as a happy coincidence to host while Myanmar serves as ASEAN chair, it is the first festival for people with disabilities across the ASEAN region.
The festival aims to make disabled artists’ amazing performances publicly known and encourage their abilities in the arts, said Aung Ko Myint, operation director of the festival as he expressed his happiness in successfully arranging the festival.
During the festival on three day up to Sunday, visually, physically or hearing impaired performers from nine ASEAN countries, plus Japan with a 10-member team, will present dance and musical performances, talent shows and a performance of Myanmar saing-waing (traditional orchestra) in combination with a western orchestra. Apart from nightly performance schedules— wheelchair dance, opera, street dance, mallet percussion, musical performance, traditional drum, art dance and Bagan dance, documentary screenings about disabled people and their rights are planned to be shown at the festival.
“With the aim of building up the image of the nation through the efforts of disabled people in Myanmar, we took two years to realize the festival”, said  Nay Lin Soe, founder and program director of Myanmar Independent Living Initiative (MILI).
One of the specific purposes of the festival is to empower youth with disabilities and inspire as role models, he went to say.
The United Nations highlighted on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities that more than 1 billion people – about 15 per cent of the world’s population – live with some form of disability and have generally poorer health, less education, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities.
“We saw an audience of 2,000 at the festival in Nay Pyi Taw where International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observed Wednesday. Here, it is expected to see more as nearly 10,000 had been delivered”, the MILI founder added.
“I am very happy to be part of the festival as a performer in a group wheelchair dance,” said Pyae Phyo Aung, one of a six-member Myanmar wheelchair dance troupe. “
With main sponsorship from the Nippon Foundation, the festival was organized by the MILI in cooperation with three other organizations focusing on the rights of disabled people.

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