This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit disabilityarts.online.

Disability Arts Online

Re-awakenings / 31 December 2010

As ever, I have left it to the last minute, I want to first post before the year is out. Whilst I like to think of time more in terms of a continuum I can’t help but be lulled into some re-appraising of the year and thinking of the coming months. Sometimes it’s good to draw a line under something and lay it to rest, though I am not sure about this stop-start of a New Year thing.

As Brecht said ‘However, they won’t say the times were dark. Rather, why were their poets silent?’ These are dark times and getting darker – particularly in the worlds of disability and arts. There is little meat, let alone fat, on the bones to trim and – let’s cut the metaphors - seemingly more applicants for fewer opportunities.

As I ‘emerge’ and move towards ‘mid-career’ (these amorphous distinctions bemuse me) I think about career development. This leads to me a host of things which I will no doubt discuss in future posts. For instance where does the disability arts movement of today fit into the same movement that started out as a much more socially engaged movement?

From where I am sat they appear to be totally separate agendas now. What is disability arts now? Where do I fit into it all?  How do I develop a career as a professional artist? Is there room for any more disabled artists? Does disability arts have ‘ranks’ to come through? If so how do you come through them?

As a socially engaged artist I am committed to inclusion in my work and strive to work within an milieu of equality. Sometimes I don’t always feel an equal within social or professional hierarchies be that the mainstream or the disability arts world. I find this contradiction interesting, disappointing and annoying. Sadly, I know I am not alone in this.

Living in the North East of England disability arts has been poorly served recently, thankfully Arcadea has a new Director and some fire being breathed into its’ slumbering belly. I look around the country for opportunities and see the work that Shape, DaDa, Dash et al. are doing.

I lament at times geographical restrictions/limitations of applications. Should I be more creative with my living arrangements? Unfortunately it has gotten so that I barely work or exhibit in my home region and I am grateful to opportunities such as Outside In at Pallant House for showing me in the Biennial of Outsider Art or the curators of the 40th Anniversary of the Disability Act exhibition for inviting me to show at the Houses of Parliament.    

2011 is looming. It is likely to bring many challenges – cutting DLA, New Horizons, Arts Council cuts, the southern drain of lottery money in the run up to 2012, keeping food on the table. Thankfully I have woken from my own slumber, I am awake, inquisitive, re-politicised and ready to explore, engage and create an uncertain future in these uncertain times.

Keywords: 2012 olympics,benefit cuts,disability art,equality,funding,mental health,social model,

Comments

Colin

/
2 January 2011

Thanks for this Aidan. Yes, times are changing and disability arts has become less about 'social engagement' or 'community' and more about 'professional practice'. Whilst this has been positive for a few this has been a divisive shift in many ways. There are far fewer events - UK-wide - where disabled artists can come together. As a result the isolating effect of disability per se, has become much more all-consuming. The one positive in this is that there is more socially responsive comment about disability in the media as opposed to comment which comes purely from a medical or charity perspective. Yes it is a small quarter of the media that is turned on to the fact that disabled people have a voice. I guess it is up to us to use it as effectively as we can.

Add a comment

Please leave your comments. They will display when submitted. DAO encourages critical feedback, but please be considerate. DAO reserves the right to edit or remove comments that don't comply with our editorial policy, which you can find on DAOs 'About' pages.

Your e-mail address will not be revealed to the public.
HTML is forbidden, but line-breaks will be retained.
This can be a URL of an image or a YouTube, MySpaceTV or a Flickr page (we'll handle the media embedding from there!)
This is to prevent automatic submissions.