Joe McConnell looks at the work of some of the disabled artists who received bursaries from Artsadmin for work in digital media.
Since 1998, the organisation Artsadmin has run an Artists' Advisory Service and an annual Bursary Scheme for artists working in live art, performance, time-based media, installation and mixed-media work. In 2002, funding came from Arts Council England (London) to run a new scheme for disabled and deaf artists based in London, aiming to support artists working in digital media. In this pilot round of the scheme four artists were supported: Stephen Conning, Juan delGado, Gordon McKenna and Lucille Power, with bursaries of £5,000 and in-kind support of access to rehearsal spaces and equipment in Toynbee Studios.
The focus of the scheme is on experimentation and practical research, allowing artists time to work in ideas without having to work within the frame of producing a final piece, which can sometimes involve a long creative process, and sometimes allow a recipient to try out many ideas they wouldn't normally have the freedom to. From the 2002 pilot scheme, the four artists have been able to pursue new project ideas, some towards showcases of work, or towards further funding and exhibition proposals.
In 2003-4, thanks to a one-off increase in funding from ACE, Artsadmin gave seven bursaries of £5,000 and two fellowships of £10,000 to artists selected in November 2003. In this round of the scheme Artsadmin were able to work in partnership with three organisations, London Disability Arts Forum, Shape and Space, in creating the aims and guidelines for the scheme, advising on and selecting applications, and supporting the recipients after selections were made.