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Wondrous Stories wins Access All Areas Diversity & Inclusion Award!

16th January 2023

We’re incredibly proud and honoured that Wondrous Stories, the opening show of the Birmingham 2022 Festival won the prestigious Access All Areas award in the Diversity and Inclusion category, at a ceremony in London on the 12th of January.

Wondrous Stories was a free outdoor show with diversity, inclusion and opportunity at its heart. It was created and directed by Kevin Finnan MBE, Artistic Director of Motionhouse, who was choreographer and movement director of the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and produced by female-led production company, Outdoor Places Unusual Spaces (OPUS).

Access All Areas supports and showcases the power, creativity and successes of the outdoor and live events industry. Wondrous Stories was recognised for its inclusive practices not only on stage, but behind the scenes and for audiences.

People walk in a line with their arms stretched in different directions

More than 250 people formed the large, integrated cast for Wondrous Stories, which included young people from the dance participation project Critical Mass, the wheelchair dance group Freewheelin, young people from across the region and professional dance-circus artists, to kick off the six-month festival that ran alongside the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Wondrous Stories featured additional choreography by Jamaal Burkmar (Extended Play, Phoenix Dance) and Sonia Sabri (Sonia Sabri Dance Company), live spoken word performance from Coventry and Birmingham-based artists Raza Hussain and Sebbie Mudhai. Birmingham’s Choir With No Name, for people affected by homelessness, sang to an uplifting soundtrack by Sophy Smith and Tim Dickinson. Designer Sophie Donaldson led Birmingham City University students in costume creation, and projections by Logela Multimedia lit up the night sky.

Seen by 22,000 people over four nights in March 2022, audiences witnessed large-scale immersive action and thrills as characters tumbled out of a giant book in the night sky, celebrating our human connection to stories.

“I am very lucky to have been given the opportunity to collaborate with such an amazing group of people on this project. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to bring Wondrous Stories to life with me. I wanted the production to showcase a truly integrated cast working as one. I was very proud of the Paralympic opening ceremony, and it’s great to see that there is the will to continue this work. There was a great commitment in the festival to ensure that dance is for all.”

Kevin Finnan, Artistic Director of Motionhouse

“We’re absolutely delighted that Wondrous Stories has been recognised with this award. It’s important that a city sees itself properly reflected in such a production both for audiences and participants. The show will stand as an example of how inclusion can be achieved when the will is there, with learnings on how we can do more.”

Caroline Davis, Title Managing Director of OPUS

The awards event on the 12th of January, which took place at London’s EartH (Evolutionary Arts Hackney) was created to celebrate individual achievement as well as that of teams at promoters and production companies.

Presented by Birmingham 2022 FestivalWondrous Stories was created by Motionhouse and produced by Outdoor Places Unusual Spaces (OPUS). Generously supported by Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.