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Sarah Houbolt stands on stage with a large plant in the background. She is wearing a gold leotard and her left hand rests on top of a hula hoop. Her right arm is extended straight up.

Arts exchange in Berlin

Artist and physical theatre performer Sarah Houbolt is one of eight talented Australian artists with disability who has just taken part in the Australia-Berlin Arts Exchange Project, an international arts and disability festival organised by Arts Access Australia. 

The festival, ran from October 9-20 and showcased Australian artists with disability and innovative learning opportunities between Australia and Germany. It centred around an event called Meeting Place, with a number of satellite events, arts workshops, music, dance and performances.

Sarah was key note speaker, a panellist at a workshop on Working with Artists with Disability and performed at the opening and closing events.

“I was thrilled to be involved in Meeting Place Berlin as it was an opportunity to share information and insights into best practice – it was truly amazing to have conversations about accessibility in the arts across the globe and realise Australia’s contributions and strength of our artists with disability,” she says.

“I was blown away by how all of the presenters at Meeting Place Berlin adopted doing their own audio descriptions for their visual material during their presentations, to create universal access. This was a first.”

You can read more about Sarah’s trip on the Disability Arts Online website.

New ambitions

After completing a contract with UTS, Sarah is excited to step back into the art, and utilised her overseas trip to mark another turn in her international arts career.

Ahead of the Berlin festival she spent a week in New York where she met with artists with disability and got to know the landscape there. She also built on her passion for the freak show by researching Coney Island and spending time with her role model, Mat Fraser.

Sarah then undertook a creative development with Extraordinary Bodies at the National Theatre Studios in London.

Outside of her work at UTS in 2017, Sarah has also spoken at TEDxSydney, at the Australian Performing Arts Centres Australia (APACA) Conference, and has undertaken her Ausdance NSW Innovating Dance Practice grant to investigate how blind people best learn dance.