Music festival is sign of the times
Everybody should be able to enjoy music: that’s what organisers of Bearsted Music on the Green believe, which is why this year they’re introducing sign language interpreters.
The annual festival, a calendar staple in the village, already has at least 40 deaf people due to attend this year.
Ruth Corney, one of the organisers, said: “Being deaf should not deny you from having access to events, but deaf people continually have to fight for equality. Our performance interpreters don’t just focus on words, they use facial expressions and body movements, and are truly amazing to watch.”
The event ran for 12 years until organisers called it a day in 2013. It made a return last year after Mrs Corney and friends Jo Conner, Craig Bennett and William Wood formed Bearsted Events, a community-interest company.
The 2016 event sold out, with all 3,500 tickets snapped up, and raised almost £16,000 for charities including the NSPCC and The Goodman Centre.
They are hoping this year will prove even more popular with the interpreters, provided by Performance Interpreting, opening the event up to all.
Mrs Corney was inspired to take this step by a friend, Andrew Belcher, whose family lives in the village. All of them are profoundly deaf.
She said: “I am lucky to have the Belcher family in my life, as they have taught me so much about their daily communication struggles, and allowing them and many of their deaf friends access to Music on the Green is just the start of something special.”
Interpreters will help deaf visitors navigate the festival and communicate with emer- gency services, as well as visibly hearing the performances. There will also be a special performance from 15 children, aged between 5 and 11, who have been working hard to learn two songs using sign language.
The festival will be held between noon and 9.30pm on Sunday, August 27.
Andrew Belcher, second from right, with Members of the organising committee of Music on the Green Jo Conner, Will Wood and Ruth Corney