Skip Links
Close Search

Allocation Exhausted


Engaging Students With Disability Forum

Exchange information, ideas and inspiration with industry experts and practitioners from the arts and disability network in this interactive two-day forum for teachers and support providers.

At Sydney Opera House and Museum of Contemporary Art


“One of the best (if not the best) I've attended in 10 years of professional learning.”

Donald Green, Bega High Support Unit 

About the forum

Explore how circus, theatre, music and the visual arts can unlock the learning of students with disability in this two day forum for teachers and support providers.

Over a series of interactive workshops and sessions led by keynote speaker Sarah Houbolt, guest artist Kate Beynon and artist educators, delve into the idea of collaboration and discover a range of creative strategies to apply immediately in your classroom.

A practical and hands-on forum for those passionate about working with students with disability, and teachers who want to learn some tried and tested technique.

Presented by Sydney Opera House and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Keynote Speaker: Sarah Houbolt

Internationally accomplished professional circus and physical theatre performer, former Paralympics swimmer, arts manager, advocate for disability in the arts and self-proclaimed freak, Sarah’s work champions the importance of how we look at accessibility in education, employment, design and innovation.  

By day she works at the University of Technology Sydney for the Equity and Diversity unit and by night she is KooKoo the Birdgirl. Sarah has presented at TEDx Sydney, the Sydney Opera House Festival of Dangerous Ideas and Sydney Festival. She also has several years teaching experience, having run inclusive community circus workshops and vocational programs for young people with disability. 

Guest Speaker: Kate Beynon

For MCA's 2017 Bella Commission, Australian contemporary artist Kate Beynon was tasked with creating an environment suitable for people with access requirements. Her work Room of Lucky Charms is a space filled with good luck charms drawn from her mixed Chinese and Welsh heritage. Taking the form of soft sculptures, more than 500 charms line the walls of the Bella Room, reminiscent of hieroglyphs or ancient Chinese pictograms – early forms of writing based on drawings of real-world objects.

Kate Beynon was born in Kowloon, aka ‘The City of Nine Dragons’ in Hong Kong, and arrived in Australia from the UK in 1974. Shaped by story-telling and informed by an interest in mixed cultural identity and feminism, Beynon’s work draws on a diverse range of traditional and contemporary influences — from her maternal grandfather’s scroll paintings and calligraphy, to textiles, film, comic books and fashion.

Guest Artists

A range of practical and hands-on workshops will be run by the Teaching Artists of Sydney Opera House and Artist Educators of the Museum of Contemporary Art.

They are practicing artists, theatre makers and artistic directors who also have a formal or informal background in education and creative learning. 


"My approach with my Special Needs Students has been "revolutionised". I have been given a whole new outlook and the 'tools' to create meaningful, exciting and all-inclusive experiences for my students. I have come away from the forum feeling inspired and enlightened!"

Cindy Dignum
Wauchope Public School

Forum Program

Day 1: Friday 18 August at MCA


Panel Discussion

Art Partner participants and MCA Artist Educators will discuss their experiences of working in a creative partnership as part of the 2016 pilot program of Bella Plus Art Partners. This program partners each participating artist with disability or access requirement with an Artist Educator for a 6-month period to work collaboratively on creative and professional skills development. Hear how each partnership developed their own ways of working together and what they got out of the program.


Morning tea


MCA Gallery Tour

Work with MCA Artist Educators and SOH Artists to explore a diversity of ways to connect with contemporary art through sensory experience in the MCA galleries. Engage in practical creative learning strategies and work collaboratively to explore how these activities can be translated to different learning settings and adapted to suit the needs of your students.




Bella Room Workshop

Participate in workshops that incorporate hands-on artmaking, performance and multimedia technology in response to the Bella Room. Each year the MCA commissions an artist to create an interactive and multi-sensory artwork for people with access needs.  Work alongside 2017 Bella Room artist Kate Beynon and MCA Artist Educators in collaborative activities that creatively connect with her artwork, Room of Lucky Charms


Reflection on practice

Conclude day one with a focussed reflection and explore the diverse ways the day’s activities can be adapted into different learning settings to work for you and your students.


Day 2: Saturday 19 August at Sydney Opera House


Sarah Houbolt Keynote

Sarah Houbolt is a circus performer, cabaret artist and self-declared freak. She is fearless, passionate, generous and funny. She has performed with Cirque Du Soleil, many cabarets, represented Australia as a Paralympian swimmer, lectures at University of Technology and does conference talks. She speaks powerfully and provocatively and will kick start the second day with a series of box bending ideas that will frame the rest of the day


Morning tea


Workshop with Sarah Houbolt

Sarah will lead the group in a physical workshop exploring hula hoops as a collaborative and conceptual device to explore a variety of outcomes including wellness, focus, physical dexterity and of course performance.




Place based response: Exploring Sydney Opera House

Explore the creative links between the Sydney Opera House and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Sydney Opera House is a marvel of engineering and architectural design. As a work of art it offers teachers and learners many opportunities to create work. Explore simple techniques of responding to the Opera House, building on the work from the day before in the MCA galleries.


Evaluation session and forum close drinks

A creative reflection on your experiences across the two days. This session will draw out points of connection and collaboratively explore ways of bringing new ideas and skills into your classroom.

You may also like...

Guwanyi Walama: Aboriginal Perspectives of Bennelong Point
Presented by an Aboriginal narrator, this interactive digital excursion will take students on a journey of discovery around the area now known as Bennelong Point from the Aboriginal perspective.
Escape from Trash Mountain: Creative Learning
09 Mar 2020 - 13 Mar 2020
A puppet show with sustainability at its heart, our trash is your treasure!
Games: Creative Learning
Europe is fracturing. Antisemitism is rising. Right-wing populism is surging. This is a timely true story about two Jewish sportswomen in Hitler’s Germany, by Henry Naylor.

Support your Opera House

The Opera House is not for profit. Help us inspire through the power of art and ideas.

Make a gift