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About Us

Undercover Artist exists to profile and promote outstanding work by performing artists with disability.

FROM 2015

Undercover Artist Festival was founded by Access Arts in consultation with Access Arts participants and a group of artists with disability.

Collectively these artists and individuals expressed a need for more opportunities for professional performing artists with disability to present their work, and better representation in the industry, particularly by Australia’s major performing arts companies.


In 2015, Access Arts formed Undercover Artist Festival and was led by founding Festival Director Belinda Locke, a role which was then taken on by Harmonie Downes for the following festival in 2017. Both women are professional arts practitioners who identify as experiencing disability. 

Artists from across Australia gathered on Turrbal and Jagera Country at Queensland Theatre in Brisbane to showcase their work at this disability-led festival. Accessible to all artists and audiences, the festival features theatre, dance, music and cabaret performances, works-in-progress, installation art, stand-up comedy, workshops, and forums.


In 2020, Access Arts curated Undercover Artist: Online, a showcase of works in development under consideration for the Festival in 2021.  

Image: Andi Snelling performing “Happy Go Wrong” at 2021 Undercover Artist Festival.

Photography by Jade Ellis Photography

"Undercover Artist is different. What we do is unparalleled. We are a Festival, yes. But we are also a development hub. We are mentors. We are access consultants, dramaturgs, proof-readers, audience members, counsellors, costume design critics, budget explainers, grant finders, letter-of-support writers, and so much more."

to now

Since the Festivals debut in 2015, Undercover Artist has grown into so much more than Undercover Artist Festival. Quickly becoming one of Australia’s disability-led performing arts organisations promising to challenge the status quo and providing a platform for artists to showcase their true authentic self.

Recognising the potential of many artists and the sometimes inaccessible development options available, 2022 saw the introduction of Undercover Artist Career Workshops. These workshops aimed to provide performing artists with disability or who are d/Deaf an opportunity to grow their careers through grant writing techniques, Allyship, CV development skills and understanding expressions of interest opportunities. 

The purpose of the workshops is to provide skills that may be inaccessible to artists through traditional training modes, in an effort to support more artists with disability to build their arts careers. 


Looking forward to 2023, the Undercover Artist Development Program aims to support artists through grant funding, ongoing one on one mentoring and most importantly, getting new and upcoming artists stage ready. With one artist from the Development Program securing their spot on stage at Undercover Artist Festival 2023. 


Alongside the Development Program, led by Madeleine Little, and with the support of Access Arts and CPL – Choice, Passion, Life Undercover Artist Festival will be back September 2023. 

Image:  Lauren Watson during her performance art piece Nerve, with a disassembled wheelchair hanging from the air using rope and aerial ribbon.

"At Undercover Artist we invest our time and energy into supporting disabled artists at every stage of their career, because we know that art should be for everyone – not just to consume, but to make, too. We also believe that our stages should represent our society, which means seeing artists with disability tell their stories with authenticity. With meaning. And with power. We encourage brand new ideas, we nurture careers, and we program excellence in disability-led performing arts in our Festival. We know that disabled artists deserve more than a box. Instead, we build a platform on which our artists’ legacies remain well into the future."


Undercover Artist Festival Director

Madeleine (Maddie) Little (she/her) is a performer, theatre maker and access consultant for the performing arts based in Brisbane. She is a proud disabled artist who enjoys working in both disability-led and safe ally-led creative environments. She believes that disabled and d/Deaf artists should be able to tell their stories on their terms, without shame, fear, or censorship.


As a leader in the disability arts sector, Madeleine currently sits on the board of Arts Access Australia and has received multiple awards: Early Career Artist Award – Australia Council’s National Arts and Disability Awards (2022), National Leadership Award – Arts Access Australia (2019), Stella Young Award – Arts Access Victoria (2018).


As an actor, Madeleine has been recognised for her performance as Dr Emma Brookner in The Normal Heart (Ad Astra Theatre) with a Matilda Award for Best Supporting Actor in an Independent Production.


Maddie is a published writer, having written for online sites like Mamamia and contributing to academia. Her published contributions to disability arts theory include ‘Hold On: Australian innovations in access aesthetics’ – Australasian Drama Studies Journal (with Dr Eddie Paterson and Dr Sarah Austin, Vol. 76, 2020), ‘Quick Trust and Slow Time: Relational Innovations in Disability Performing Arts Practice’ – The International Journal of Disability and Social Justice (Dr Bree Hadley, et. Al. vol. 2, 2022) and ‘How Disability Performance Travels in Australia’ by Dr Bree Hadley with Dr Eddie Paterson, and Kath Duncan in How Does Disability Performance Travel? Access, Art, and Internationalization (Routledge 2024).

A professional headshot of Madeleine. She has long red hair and is wearing a black top and smiling.

Image:  Madeleine Little’s headshot. Photography by Nick Morrissey

Image:  Mags Doherty headshot

Undercover Artist Festival Trainee Producer: Events

Mags Doherty’s has been captivating audiences with her dynamic talent since the age of seven. A versatile dancer, Mags has explored a range of styles including hip hop, ballet, tap jazz and contemporary dance.


Currently Mags is honing her skills with both Screech Arts and the esteemed Zen Zen Zo physical theatre company. Her recent collaboration with Zen Zen Zo under Screech Arts has set the stage for an eagerly anticipated show in 2024. This collaboration introduced Mags to an exciting new style of physical theatre, leading her to continue her work with Zen Zen Zo. 


Mags’s impressive repertoire includes numerous spellbinding performances in Screech Arts productions. She has also graced the stages of the acclaimed Anywhere Theatre Festival in 2019 and 2023 and in 2021 was centre stage at Undercover Artist Festival. Mags is now taking on the dual role of producer and performer in 2023.


In 2023, Mags embraced the roles of choreographer and assistant director, empowering and supporting fellow performers to shine both on and off the stage. Noteworthy highlights include captivating audiences at the Brisbane/Gold Coast Disability Expo in 2019 and 2022, participating in the heart-warming Dance for Sick Kids initiative in 2021, and engaging in the transformative Wired Differently collaboration from 2023 to 2024.

Image:  Alexandra Ellen headshot. Photography by Jade Ellis.

Undercover Artist Festival Trainee Producer: Events

Alexandra Ellen is a Brisbane based theatre maker and visual artist. She takes a multidisciplinary approach to her artistic practice which crosses form. She aims to educate, challenge, expose, encourage and delight.


Alexandra Ellen is the Artistic Associate at indelabilityarts and has been a member of the professional ensemble since 2017. She was a contributing member of the Love Me; and is part of the creative team and cast of award winning show, Wilbur The Optical Whale. Alexandra is presenting her own disability led work, Betsy and I, at Undercover Artist Festival 2023 as the writer and creative lead. 


Alexandra is also a visual artist and a member of Access Arts visual arts BOA and Earn From Your Arts programs. Her visual arts practice can be described as expressive and intuitive, leaning towards mixed media and experimenting with materials and technique. Over the last 3 years, she has contributed to many collaborative exhibitions and curated her first solo exhibition Outside Inside in 2019. Alexandra was part of La Boite’s 2020 ASSEMBLY cohort and was the 2020 Access Arts Achievement Award recipient.

The Undercover Artist Trainee Producers are supported by Access Arts’ Earn From Your Art.

The Undercover Artist team want to acknowledge the hard work and support of their colleagues at Access Arts and CPL – Choice, Passion, Life. From Development and Sponsorships through to Marketing and more, Undercover Artist could not do what we do without them. The team would also like to thank former producers Hana Tow and Paul Adams for their contributions to the success of Undercover Artist, and acknowledge the 2021 Festival Steering Group for their guidance.