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Producing the Producers, an introduction / 6 March 2015

Hello everyone, howdedo? Big news.....

I am thrilled to be the first ever Producing the Producers guinea pig, an Arts Council England-funded scheme cooked up by Trish Wheatley of Dao to address the lack of producers with appropriate skills and knowledge to work with disabled artists. JOY!!! 

Paid training in anything is amazing, but paid training in exactly what I want to be doing....WELL. Happy dances all round my dears! The past two years of my life have been spent in equal measure trying to figure out what to do to position myself as an arts producer and stuck in bed staring at the ceiling; I’m delighted the career plan is winning over the mind-weasels and I look forward to getting to know a new gang of artists and facilitators.

Ultimately I’d like to be a High-Powered Arts Bitch with political clout in charge of a huge pot of money and a multi-platform festival programming exciting disabled and non-disabled artists. For now, I’m a listener and a lover of art. An art-lover who sees the potential for social change, justice and enlightenment through cultural exchange. 

“The South African writer Antjie Krog described meeting a nomadic desert poet in Senegal who described the role of poets in his culture. 
The job of the poet, he explained to her, is to remember where the water holes are. 
The survival of the whole group depends on a few water holes scattered around the desert. 
When his people forget where the water is, the poet can lead them to it. 
What an apt metaphor for the role of the artist in any culture.” 
Anne Bogart, And Then You Act (Making Art In An Unpredictable World) 

The relationship between producer and artist and/or organisation is as varied as it is difficult to define, but I am in the extraordinarily lucky position that I have a year to ask as many questions as I can and to observe and contribute to several existing and new projects around the UK. Wether I am a compass, a camel or a conspirator to you wandering poets I hope to be of use.

I have a lot to learn, both about producing and disability arts, so any reading or viewing suggestions are gratefully received.

This week I’m getting stuck into Strength by Paddy Masefield and Disability Aesthetics by Tobin Siebers, between learning to break the Dao blog, paddling at the keyboard like a dog in a river and drinking a lot of coffee. 

This week has been something of a crash course for both Trish and I; I accepted the position on Friday afternoon and arrived on Monday morning to head straight to our first meeting with producers from Salisbury Arts Centre,  The Point and Stopgap to discuss a funding and performance event in July. Jumping in at the deep end, I offered to help with a crowd-funding campaign, something I’ve used previously to get my own show ArtWank to the Edinburgh Fringe. [Please see below]

Tuesday saw my first visit to the stunning grounds at Holton Lee, which, having recently merged with Livability, are at an interesting time of change and new ideas. I started to learn about the distinctions between arts in health, disability arts and art therapy, and the importance of understanding the difference. The specifics of language and attitude are one of the aspects of disability arts I am most drawn to.

The rest of the week Trish and I have been cosied up round our laptops writing our contracts and a plan for our year together and later we’ll Skype with the amazing Sue Austin about her all-swimming all-flying adventures for Freewheeling. 

Next week I’ll be reporting from Bristol and Salisbury as I start helping on Liz Crow’s new project Figures, and hopefully get the hang of LinkedIn.
See you soon!
Love Alice x

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