The Somersault Project

Beginning in 2003, Somersault is a long-term project designed to develop a sense of community around people with disabilities, their families, friends, and colleagues through the arts. In particular, those with intellectual & multiple disabilities who are involved in day activity programs, but increasingly the project is catering for people with all types of disability, from many different backgrounds.

Participation in the project takes place through annual programs of workshops & events. Workshop outcomes range from the creation of artefacts & artworks, to rehearsal & performance of music & movement based productions. Workshops take place in a range of host communities in metropolitan & regional South Australia.

Workshop outcomes (artwork and performances) are showcased as part of the “Creative Village” indoor/ outdoor installation. As more communities participate, their lives & creativity add to the Creative Village experience. The Creative Village setting has also hosted dance, theatrical, & musical performances at a variety of locations, such as the Adelaide Festival Centre Plaza & the Semaphore Street Fair. Somersault Events promote & demonstrate the capacity for disability & mainstream artistic & cultural integration, as they feature mainstream & disability culture artists, performers & audiences side by side.

Somersault’s 2009 activities

Highlights of Somersault’s 2009 program include the Creative Village Installation, & a performance & visual arts workshop series travelling to the Clare region of South Australia, continuing to provide an opportunity (for people with disabilities, audiences, & community artists) in regional areas to participate in an exciting community cultural development project.

The major emphasis of our 2009 visual arts workshops will see participants create brightly painted & decorated market umbrellas. Participating communities & disability organisations keep their finished umbrellas, & are encouraged to bring them along to collectively feature at disability culture & mainstream community events, in addition to utilizing & displaying them in their workplaces & communities.

Having successfully modelled this “Umbrella Meme” as a symbol of disability inclusiveness & creativity, Somersault is keen to increase project participation & continues to extend its reach throughout South Australia’s disability & arts sectors. The resulting “flotilla” of decorated umbrellas becomes a highly visible & recognisable link between numerous disability organizations.

The crowning event on the 2009 Somersault program will see an “Umbrella Fest” event staged as a major two-day highlight of the City of Port Adelaide Enfield’s “Port Festival” on Friday & Saturday, October 9th & 10th. This event will invite participating communities & their painted & decorated umbrellas together from across the state. It will feature an inclusive & diverse program of performance, including performances from current & previous Somersault participants, as well as some of South Australia’s leading disability arts ensembles, & diverse array of accomplished mainstream performers.

Project Director & initiator Tony Doyle is blind, & has had sight impairment throughout his life. Through his work (CV available on request) he has been an acknowledged & effective international advocate for, & demonstrated his commitment to, the global Disability Culture Movement. The principles of this Disability Culture Movement (including disability self-determination & self-direction) continue to inform & guide the development of the Somersault Project.

Somersault 2009 Events Overview

Somersault 2009 sees the culmination of a unique disability arts project. Beginning in 2003, “The Somersault Project” has involved many people with a disability, their families, support workers and carers in arts workshops and major events, and in creating new and exciting art works and performances.

The core themes of The Somersault Project have been:

Celebration – of the power and richness of disability culture through performances and major events
Installation – the transformation of spaces through the Somersault “Seetainer Creative Village” into a dynamic and exciting place for workshops and events
Journey – for participants, as they develop their talents, express themselves and connect with the broader community.

Somersault 2009 sees the staging of 4 major celebratory events that embody these core themes. A “flotilla” of painted market umbrellas, created by people with disabilities in Somersault visual arts workshops features alongside a disability inclusive program of performances. All takes place against the striking backdrop of the “Creative Village” installation.

SOMERSAULT AT LE FEVRE – Friday, April 3rd

This is a coming together of people with mainly intellectual and physical disability on day activity programs, and the wider community. Many participants in day activity programs are always on the move looking for exciting options and experiences – a community need addressed through The Somersault Project – and do they like to party and get involved in this high participation event.


This is a performance event that aims to feature many of the companies and artists that have been part of the Somersault Project over the last 5 years. From Tutti Ensemble to No Strings Attached, Restless Dance Theatre, Chris Finnen and many more this will be a day of high quality entertainment, featuring many of the painted umbrellas created to date.

SOMERSAULT AT CLARE – Friday, September 4th

Somersault continues taking its energy and creativity to regional SA, bringing together Adelaide based artists and performers to work in conjunction with those at a local level. Clare region music & visual arts workshops will culminate in this exciting daytime community celebration.

‘UMBRELLAFEST’ - SOMERSAULT AT PORT FESTIVAL 09 – Friday & Saturday, October 9/10

This is Somersault as part of a major festival, again featuring disability culture alongside mainstream artists and companies. It will see all the elements of Somersault, from community participation to high quality performances, the transforming power of the Seetainer Creative Village, and the flotilla of umbrellas along with those who have made them. Celebration, Installation and Journey marks the culmination of the Somersault Project in this major 2 day event!

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding & advisory body.

The Department of Families & Communities have contributed funds towards this program.