Mouthwater Disabled Arts Festival Launches in Seattle in 2024

The Mouthwater Festival will take place in Seattle, WA with an artist incubator in late September 2024 and sliding scale-priced events from October 1-13, 2024.

By: Sep. 29, 2023
Mouthwater Disabled Arts Festival Launches in Seattle in 2024

Black disabled local artist has been awarded a multi-year Mellon Foundation grant to develop and premiere Mouthwater Festival, a new disabled arts fringe festival coming to Seattle in fall 2024. 

Co-founded by Saira Barbaric, NEVE and Vanessa Hernández Cruz, Mouthwater Festival will span Seattle showcasing performance art, dance, and music by disabled creatives. Disabled artists from all over the country will gather in town to share their work, develop their practice, and foster cross-disability solidarity and community understanding.

Barbaric received the initial grant to support the research, investigation, and design of an accessible artistic structure. They have been a part of Seattle’s arts scene since 2016, known for producing events, performing burlesque and showing visual art with a variety of queer and erotic art collectives. Barbaric's work spans mediums considered both high and low art with goals and weakening the barriers between the two. 

"I am thrilled to receive support from the Mellon Foundation to create, research, tour and build this festival. I believe that the Mouthwater Festival has the potential to be a transformative force in our city. By creating a platform for Disabled artists, we can address some systemic barriers  and set standards for a more vibrant and understanding norm within the arts community. I am honored to be in process with my collaborators, disability justice leaders and the Seattle arts community," said Barbaric. To support this group founding, Barbaric has reached out to NEVE, a mixed-Black Seattle local who’s an internationally recognized dancer, and Vanessa Hernández Cruz, a Chicana Los Angeles-based Disabled dance artist  and experienced creative.

From Vanessa: “This is going to be an incredibly beautiful & radical festival!  I am deeply overjoyed to be a part of this journey to bring this into fruition. What I am most excited about, is the convening of all the amazing talented Disabled artists & being able to uplift, share, & celebrate our work. Experiencing Crip Joy together!”

“What is so exciting to me about the Mouthwater Festival is that it will introduce so many Disabled artists to one another’s work, further strengthening our Disabled arts community. It will familiarize more people in Seattle with both the national and local, vibrant Disabled arts scene, and it will put Seattle on the map as a Disabled dance and arts hub. I’m happily bracing for the creative explosion, “ shared NEVE. 

Mouthwater Festival will create an arts hub by and for Black, Brown, and Indigenous disabled artists to present, collaborate, and get paid. NEVE, Vanessa and Saira will be joined by artist-curators India Harville, Kayla Hamilton and Mx. Pucks A’Plenty to plan performances all over town, giving Seattleittes the chance to catch a cocktail lounge cabaret, an outdoor showing or a night at the theater. NEVE and Saira Barbaric dream of making Seattle a regular stomping ground for disabled artists to thrive and grow and where the values can be anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, pro-black, disability justice-informed, afrofuturist, sex educated, and practical.

Erin Johnson, Executive Director of Velocity, is excited to see a national funder investing in a Seattle-based artist and hopes that other national funders, audiences, and advocates will match this interest. "As we build a community of support around the first iteration of the Mouthwater Festival, it is crucial that we consider not just this first year, but how we invest long-term in artists and projects like this festival. These are the projects and people that will shape the arts and culture landscape for the next 20 years and bring us closer to our vision of a vibrant and inclusive community. This is the time to invest.”

The Mouthwater Festival will take place in Seattle, WA with an artist incubator in late September 2024 and sliding scale-priced events from October 1-13, 2024. The festival is in the early stages of identifying venues, partners, and supporters. Mouthwater Festival is being produced through Velocity Dance Center’s Made in Seattle new dance development program, and will be anchored at 12th Avenue Arts on Capitol Hill. 


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