A debate was held on Saturday by Vision 21 - a collection of disability artists and arts managers looking for creative ways of inspiring creativity and debate about our art form.
Vision 21 is a collection of disability artists and arts managers looking for creative ways of inspiring debate about our art form.
Saturday’s Vision 21 meeting was interesting as we gathered in our respective stupors waiting for the next instalment of discussions around our Disability Arts Movement. It is clear that we are now Unlimited, or so 2012 tells us and no one could argue that this is a very interesting point in time for its potential. Our discussions in part explored the consequences of losing the ‘o’ (in the proposed Vision 21 manifesto). In doing so, would we be in danger of losing the power of our original intention? We thought not. Since returning from DadaFest, I have been troubled and curious about this however: repeatedly asking myself ‘What is our intention?’
Whilst it was great to sit in a room together without, for once being overtly angry about the arts funding system, for the relief in that, I still feel that we have lost our way because I am not sure about intention and what we individually and collectively aspire to achieve in Disability Arts in the UK and beyond. Do we know who we are making work for? Where are the audiences? Who are the audiences? Apart from loyal and engaged mainstreamers and a smattering of promoters, are we really putting the way we see the world and our achievements out there in a palpable way for people to consume?
As I head out to Beijing, to try and connect with people beyond our isle, I am struck by the sense of simplicity around Paralympians 'going for gold'. For all the contradictions and issues around perfect disabled bodies and terminology and ‘what happened to me’ monologues, it feels more straightforward and the intention is for all of those gathered to ‘win’.
Surely we want to win too? Dada Fest should be more than in-house happy clappy. I overheard someone saying that at times, they felt like ‘being at the day centre’. How deeply troubling! Mind you, a day centre is considerably warmer than the A Foundation was. So dropping the 'o'. Manifest is useful for us as it can mean ‘caught in the act’, ‘blatant’, or assertion of main beliefs and intentions, repeatedly biased in nature. Nice. So my feeling is that Manifest will allow us to get on with the business of making powerful and provocative work.
We were not up to nor given time for a truly creative process in the few hours we spent together, we still gave pretty much the best of ourselves. Still niggling issues re: representation for me – we do still need to ensure that our ‘gatherings’ have inclusive rigour /as/ de-rigeur. When are we are going to really include people with learning disabilities!? Couldn’t we just manifest and mess it up together in the first instance but also create something that is supremely ‘take it or leave it’. People have the right to shun participation and involvement in a movement, and this has to be a good thing. Not everyone has to sign up.
For me personally, I feel the pull towards cultural exchange and partnership and new platforms and different ways of making this happen. The leverage and visibility we must boldly seek. With bravado! There’s nothing brave about this but we do need to be clear, convincing and above all, certain. I like the idea of collaboration, with each other and with the mainstream and if properly designed and constructed, it doesn’t have to be an unequal exchange.
We must make work that is really good and sell it! What we do need to do is inspire intention and develop our skill and leadership to achieve just that – a deeper conviction our magnificence and our skill and that what we say and do is of note and worth a movement and a following!