As many of us will know, being a disabled artist and not allied to any group or organisation, it has always been extremely difficult to obtain funding. And those of us who produce work that has an overt political edge are even more handicapped (sic) by the funding system.
That's not to say that groups and organisations of disabled people who have applied for funding have had it any easier. For example I'm aware that our esteemed Editor Colin Hambrooke spends a large amount of his time searching for funding and then completing the endless application forms that inevitably go with this - and Disability Arts on Line (DAO) is one of our more established disability arts organisations.
And now the bloody CONDEMs, not content with slashing our benefits and support services have declared their 'Big Society'.
This involves not only the big disability charities coming back to haunt us with a vengeance (click here to see Crippen's political blog ) but also brings in the big corporations. These corporations will be encouraged to offer sponsorship to artists, including disabled artists who will be expected to compromise their art in order to obtain funding from a specific commercially oriented funder. Funding organisations like the Arts Council may well become redundant in this scenario.
And let's not forget the new funding process called the 'National Portfolio (NP)'. This is going to change the funding landscape yet again as the system of having Regularly Funded Organisations (RFO) is overturned. As usual most of the funding will probably go to organisations like the Royal Opera House (ROH). The subsidy on bums on seats at the ROH exceeds any other subsidy for the arts. So the toffs are being subsidised at everyone else's expense ... what a suprise!
Cartoon in the pipeline re the National Portfolio ... watch this space!
More and more disabled people are turning out for the various anti-cuts demonstrations that are taking place across the length and breadth of England and making their voices heard. And it looks as though the big rally planned by the TUC in London on 26th March will include members from all of the anti cuts groups run and controlled by us crips; in effect the largest turn out of disabled protesters that this country has ever seen.
Even those of us who can’t be there physically are being facilitated by groups like ‘Black Triangle’ (who originated this idea at the Inclusion Scotland Conference earlier this year) and ‘Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)’ who are both planning on carrying banners with absent disabled protesters names printed on them. There is also going to be a virtual protest blogs set up so that those who can’t participate physically can do so on-line.
Accessible transport is being arranged, a buddy support system is being organised and the TUC have announced the setting up of a large video screen for those who can get to Hyde Park but can’t access the actual march itself. I’ve also just heard that there’ll be a static protest point in Hyde Park for those of us unable to participate in the actual march.
And it also looks as though the mainstream press are starting to take notice of us too. The recent demonstration in Birmingham at which our own Bob Williams Findlay spoke was shown on television that night. Also several excellent videos about the protests from the likes of John McCardle and Craig Lundie from Black Triangle, and Eleanor Lisney and Linda Burnip from DPAC are currently doing the rounds on UTube.
Protest groups that mainly consist of non-disabled people are also now beginning to realise that we have a vital part to play in the nation wide protest against this government’s punitive actions. Albeit with some heavy lobbying by disabled activists, they seem to be taking on board issues around accessibility and inclusion.
Call me optimistic but I think that after the 26th March demonstration, bully-boy Cameron and his cronies will be in no doubt that disabled people in this country are determined to put a stop to their slash and burn tactics. I can forsee the biggest U-turn in political history coming up with regard to benefits reforms and this will be down to those disabled people who protested and shouted ‘rights not charity’!