Disabled artists set to ‘disrupt’ museums nationwide

01 Jul 2022

The UK’s largest-ever exhibition of work by disabled artists will take place across the country on Saturday (2 July).

A total of 31 D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists are planning to stage surreal and nonsensical interventions in 30 museums and galleries nationwide, to mark the 102nd anniversary of the first Dada International Fair in Berlin.

Organised by disabled-led visual arts charity DASH, the project entitled We are Invisible We are Visible asked artists to imagine what would happen if the Dada movement – which rejected logic and authority in favour of disruptive nonsense – had been formed during the Covid-enforced lockdowns.

Participating venues are all part of the Plus Tate network, with the project receiving £125,000 from the Ampersand Prize.

DASH Artistic Director Mike Layward says there is a strong parallel between disability art and the Dada movement: “Both movements are born out of political situations of inequality and oppression. At this time, Disabled people are at the forefront of the impacts of so-called austerity. Poverty and exclusion are rife. As [German Dadaist artist] George Grosz said, ‘Can we tolerate this state of affairs without taking a stand against it?”
 

Diverse-led organisations fared worst in cultural recovery support

Performance of the Indonesian cultural dance Pakarena
30 Jun 2022

Arts organisations led by Black, Asian or other ethnically diverse groups were least successful in obtaining financial support from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, according to ACE’s new diversity data report. 

Nurturing a new generation of visually impaired leaders

Big crowd talking and drinking at 25th anniversary party
27 Jun 2022

Extant theatre company hopes sharing best practice across the industry will lead to increased sector opportunities for visually impaired talent.

We’re all astronauts, but some of us need more space

Children supporting a model globe
22 Jun 2022

Cultural experiences - as offered by Our Place in Space - are vital for youngsters with special educational needs. Dan Byrne, an SEN teacher, suggests more can be done to make them accessible and fulfilling. 

Accessible arts at risk of post-pandemic decline

Performance in theatre being recorded
21 Jun 2022

Following a significant improvement in accessibility to arts and culture during the pandemic, organisations are now pulling back from online offerings.

Edinburgh’s first Deaf Festival set for August

20 Jun 2022

The first Edinburgh Deaf Festival will take place from 12 -19 August.

Organised by Deaf Action, with the support of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, the festival is the first of its kind to be held in Scotland. Its organisation, production, shows and events are all deaf-led and it is scheduled to feature drama, magic, comedy, cabaret, tours, exhibitions, workshops, book clubs and a deaf rave.

Performances will include a mix of deaf and hearing artists and will be interpreted and captioned to be inclusive for hearing people as well as the deaf and hard of hearing.

“The festival will be a real celebration of our language, culture, heritage and the variety of people that make up our community,” said Deaf Action CEO Philip Gerrard.

Fringe CEO Shona McCarthy said “the Edinburgh Fringe is really proud to be associated with the first deaf festival in Scotland”.

“I think this is something that’s going to continue into the future and I hope it becomes an annual addition to the festivals landscape,” she said.

Guide to running hybrid in-person events launches

15 Jun 2022

A new guide to help festivals, literature organisations and publishers run online and in-person hybrid events is now available.

Written by CRIPtic Arts Director Jamie Hale, in consultation with D/deaf and disabled writers, the Being Hybrid guide is designed to support time and resource limited organisations.

The guide hopes to prevent “shutting the door” on those who benefited from the increase in hybrid events during the pandemic, namely those who are geographically dispersed, disabled, poorer or have caring responsibilities.

Hale says hybrid programming can be simple and quick, adding the guide gives “the cheapest and fastest way of offering online as well as offline access to events”.

It covers five reasons for making an event hybrid, how to go hybrid with limited time and tech, putting ideas into practice, advice on including hybrid speakers and facilitators, and access to hybrid events.
 
The guide is available in full, summary, plain english, BSL and in audio and video formats.

Disability arts group with radical plans

Pathway actors close up
15 Jun 2022

As Extant celebrates its 25th anniversary, Mary Paterson shares their plans to spearhead radical change for disabled people in the theatre.

Scottish theatre company launches programme for disabled people

09 Jun 2022

A Scottish theatre company has launched a new initiative to help disabled people get involved with performing arts.

Cutting Edge Theatre, based in Edinburgh, has received funding from the ScottishPower Foundation for its Inspire Disability Arts programme.

The theatre company said the programme will establish a clear pathway into theatre for those of primary school age all the way to professional training and employment.

Suzanne Lofthus, artistic director at Cutting Edge Theatre, said: “It’s about offering equal access to the performing arts. I was able to do drama at school and then join a youth theatre.

“People with disabilities should have the same access I had, whether they want to pursue a career in theatre or just take a class for fun.

“When I started to look to see where in Scotland learning-disabled people could train in performing arts in a supported environment with their peers, the answer is almost nowhere.

“This award from the ScottishPower Foundation means we can start to change that.”

Aston Hall hosts campus for neurodivergent students

17 May 2022

A campus offering creative education for neurodivergent students is opening at Birmingham’s Aston Hall.

The new facility will see students of Pinc College undertake classes in art, digital art and complementary studies at the Grade I listed 17th century mansion, which is operated by Birmingham Museums Trust.

As part of the new partnership, Birmingham Museums will offer the students access to arts opportunities across the trust’s nine museum and heritage sites.

The Aston Hall campus marks Pinc College’s first in the West Midlands and will open officially in September. Prospective students are being invited to attend open days at the facility on 19 and 20 May.

Birmingham Museums’ Historic Properties Museum Manager Kimberley Biddle said the trust is looking forward to students exploring the richness of the building as part of their creative learning.

“I’ve been lucky enough to see first-hand the work of team Pinc and the way that focussed art engagement can unleash unbounded creativity in their students.”

Reimagining the orchestra for the 21st century 

SMOOSH! perform at Knowle, West Bristol
12 Apr 2022

Charles Hazlewood is on a mission to disrupt the traditional model of orchestral music and bring the excitement into the streets.

Advocating for those with chronic illness

29 Mar 2022

Louise Wildish has been exploring whether working models in the arts are accessible for those, like her, living with chronic illness.

Unlimited to go it alone

28 Mar 2022

The Unlimited commissioning programme for disabled artists is becoming an independent organisation.

After nine years of delivery by Shape Arts and ArtsAdmin, Unlimited is relocating to Wakefield next month.

Since 2013, the programme has granted nearly £5m to more than 460 disabled creatives, supporting some 3,500 events.

Shape Arts and ArtsAdmin said they were proud of the "pioneering, provocative and incredibly talented artists" they'd supported together.

"The Unlimited commissions are testament to this and to the sheer creative force that can be unlocked when the barriers facing disabled creatives are addressed and dismantled," David Hevey, Chief Executive at Shape Arts, said.

Dancing with disability

14 Mar 2022

As a trained dancer and choreographer, Rosie Heafford learned the hard way how to deal with an invisible disability. 

Brighton dance company launches US arm

09 Mar 2022

Brighton-based Parable Dance has launched a sister company in New York.

The company, which delivers inclusive workshops and classes for disabled people, is renaming itself as Parable Dance UK as it expands.

Co-Founders Natasha Britton and Erica Moshman will lead on the UK and US arms of the business respectively.

Their methods have proved popular abroad - they have also been asked to deliver training in Norway.

"We are thrilled that within just over two years we've expanded enough to be able to take this exciting step," Britton said.

"The UK are seen as leaders in inclusive dance approaches and we feel proud to be able to take these methods to the US, to support the next generations of dancers and teachers there."

DASH extends Future Curators network

28 Feb 2022

Disabled-led visual arts charity DASH is extending its Future Curators programme.

Cornwall’s Newlyn Art Gallery & Exchange, Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery and Sheffield’s Arts Catalyst will join the network’s three existing members this year.

The three new organisations will each host a disabled curator for a fifteen-month residency, resulting in a new exhibition or body of work produced by each curator.

DASH says its Future Curators Network aims to address deep-rooted inequality against disabled people in the visual arts sector.

Artistic Director Mike Layward says the programme now covers most parts of England: “We have high hopes for the Future Curators programme and the influence it will bring in diversifying the visual arts sector.”

National Open Youth Orchestra announces first concerts

28 Feb 2022

The National Open Youth Orchestra (NOYO) is going on tour for the first time.

The orchestra consists of disabled and non-disabled musicians aged 11-25 playing both acoustic and electronic instruments tailored to disabled performers.

Launched in 2018, the orchestra is the world’s first disabled-led national youth ensemble.

NOYO says performances will be presented in a relaxed atmosphere to accommodate a neurodiverse audience, with dimmed lights, relaxed seating and consideration towards noise and audience movements.

A programme of four events, starting in London on April 24, is scheduled through to June.

How to remain inclusive while living with Covid

22 Feb 2022

Andrew Miller says arts organisations must work with disabled artists to keep them safe amid the very real risks the Government's plan poses to their health.

Welsh theatre 'can't afford' access for disabled actors

22 Feb 2022

Disabled actors are unable to perform at Theatre Colwyn because Conwy County Council cannot afford a wheelchair lift.

The council owned theatre underwent a £740,000 redevelopment in 2011 that included disabled access on all floors, but no disabled access to the stage.

During a committee meeting, Theatre Colwyn Manager Phil Batty said installing backstage disabled access would cost a £250,000.

He said: "It is the lift issue that is the cost. We did look into that, but it hasn’t moved any further. Obviously we’ve had Covid the last few years, but we will certainly pick it up again."

Conwy Counil’s Head of Economy and Culture Sarah Ecob said council is considering an installation, but it is complicated by the building's footprint.

Conwy disability champion Frank Bradfield called the issue an equal rights matter: “The cost of the lift doesn’t come into the rights or wrongs of it. You can’t discriminate against people on grounds of disability.”

Scottish Ballet extends health and wellbeing classes

07 Feb 2022

Scottish Ballet has committed to a five-year extension of its health and wellbeing programme.

The dance company offers classes across Scotland for people living with long term conditions including Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Dementia.

Scottish Ballet’s Director of Engagement Catherine Cassidy said support from investment company Baillie Gifford will help develop the programme, which has run since 2015.

More than a million Scots live with neurological conditions. Studies show taking part in regular dance classes can improve balance, fatigue and cognitive performance.

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