In 2018 WOW met Bethan, a proud young disabled woman from Ceredigion. We spotted her wearing a Totoro t-shirt and bonded over a shared love of anime. She told us that it was her dream to start her own convention in West Wales.
We started by organising a winter of animation workshops for Bethan and her friends. Since then Bethan has become creative director of Abercon, which was held at Aberystwyth Arts Centre in March 2019 in partnership with Mencap Ceredigion.
Abercon 2020 was going to be bigger and better, but sadly had to be cancelled because of the pandemic. We continue to run an animation club online for young people and adults with learning disability and autism.
Throughout 2021 we have held fortnightly workshops over Zoom. With funding from Ffilm Cymru Wales at the start of the year participants worked on making individual animated self-portraits. They are currently working as a group on an animatic that they have scripted together, which has a strong environmental message and sees an arch villain put on trial for crimes against the environment. The project has become increasingly participant led and we are discovering the ways that neurodiverse people challenge storytelling and filmmaking conventions. In the words of one of the animators in the group - "with animation, anything is possible."
Their next project will be another group film, funded by Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services, which will link to themes within the Learning Disability Charter.
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