Liverpool-based ADHD Foundation - the largest user-led ADHD agency in Europe - has announced that Patricia Ward Kelly, the wife of the late Hollywood icon, Gene Kelly, is to become its new patron.
The alliance comes after Patricia was walking through Heathrow's Terminal 5 and spotted the Foundation's Umbrella Project, which is a larger replica of the art installation currently displayed in Liverpool city centre and at MediaCityUK, Salford. Compelled by the message behind the Umbrella Project, Patricia reached out to the Foundation's chief executive, Dr Tony Lloyd, asking how she could get involved in the charity's ground-breaking work.
Patricia explained how the similarities between her own work for The Gene Kelly Legacy, Inc., and that of the ADHD Foundation led to this exciting new partnership.
Patricia Ward Kelly, creative director, The Gene Kelly Legacy, Inc., commented:
"A few years ago, I noticed an interesting trend online in what people were saying about Gene’s movies. I saw that very often they are being screened around the world in therapeutic fashion for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and for ‘relaxed’ events for young people with autism and various other neurodiverse issues. I continue to be intrigued by the relationship between music and the mind, and know of several instances where music has been used therapeutically to help patients overcome their obstacles. I also have a friend whose autistic son has watched Singin’ in the Rain over 2,000 times, as it brings him both joy and comfort.
"Gene always said that the purpose of his films was to bring joy, and he was pleased when new and younger audiences responded to his work. Though Gene died in 1996 - before many advances in neuroscience and the use of his films in a variety of therapies for both young and old alike - I know he would feel both proud and also very humble knowing that his work was being used in such a meaningful way.
"I am honoured to be an ambassador for neurodiversity and patron of the ADHD Foundation. I am grateful to the Foundation for allowing me to share the beautiful mission of the Umbrella Project with the celebration of Gene’s legacy. It seems a most fitting alliance."
This new partnership begins next week when performers from Pineapple dance studios and the Rock Choir will present a special performance of ‘Singin' in the Rain’ underneath the Umbrella Project at Heathrow's Terminal 5, as part of BBC Music Day (September 26). A smaller Umbrella Project will also be installed at the BFI Southbank, as part of its new UK-wide season, BFI Musicals! The Greatest Show on Screen, which begins October 18 with the nationwide re-release of Singin' in the Rain.
Dr Tony Lloyd, chief executive, ADHD Foundation, said:
"You can only imagine just how excited we were to receive that first email from Patricia! We are so moved that our Umbrella Project has struck a chord with her, and honoured that she has agreed to become a patron of the Foundation. I know we will do some great things together in our shared goal of breaking down the barriers facing neurodiverse individuals the world over.
"We look forward to working in partnership with Patricia, in celebrating Gene’s incredible work, and indeed her own work in ensuring his legacy continues to touch the lives of others."
The Umbrella Project is part of an initiative to raise awareness and celebrate ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia - which all sit under the "umbrella" term of neurodiversity. The project aims to flip the disabling perception of neurodiverse individuals on its head and, instead, celebrate cognitive differences.
The project launched on Church Alley in Liverpool in 2017, where it has returned every year since; it debuted at BBC North, MediaCityUK, Salford Quays in 2018 and returned again this year; and it launched at Heathrow this summer, marking the first time the artwork has been available to view in London or at an airport.
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