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Colin Hambrook established Disability Arts Online in 2004. Since then he has been editing and maintaining the journal and its social media outlets. In his blog he comments on aspects of stuff going in within Disability Arts and the specific arts programmes Dao is engaged with.. as well being known to vent the occasional rant.

Trish Wheatley attends the opening of the People Like You exhibition at Salisbury Arts Centre

8 March 2013

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photo of a group of soft sculptures of figures

In his book Future Perfect, Steve Johnson makes the observation that "as a news hook, steady incremental progress pales beside the sexier stories of dramatic breakthrough and spectacular failure". Here on DAO I believe we buck that trend. Whilst we plotted the highlights of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad we also, through our smaller news stories and ongoing blogs, aimed to cover those  incremental but no less significant steps in the arts world from a disability perspective. This...

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Trish Wheatley invites you to take the DAO Reader Survey

3 April 2013

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Hand written multicoloured text reads: News Listings Reviews Blogs Interviews Galleries

The new look DAO has been live a few weeks now and we are keen to get your feedback on this and all aspects of DAO. We started doing an annual survey last year. It's really important that we hear from you so that we can continue to make improvements and deliver the content that really matters to you. We also use quotes anonymously from the survey as evidence of the need for DAO in our funding applications so good honest feedback really does help us to survive in challenging financial...

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Liz Crow Bed's In at Salisbury Arts Centre to talk about disempowerment and discrimination

12 April 2013

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You would expect that a symposium on Disability Art as Activism will centre around the role that the arts play in addressing political issues. There is still time to get involved in disabled artist Liz Crow's live marathon public sleepover taking place in Salisbury Arts Centre. Liz takes centre stage in a large bed. Her purpose is to talk about what bed-life means for us as disabled people. She highlights the contradiction between the demands of the Benefits Agencies in making you present...

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Colin Hambrook asks where do we find Disability Arts and activism?

15 April 2013

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colour image of shocking pink grab rails spelling out the word 'People' on a black background

The Disability, Arts & Diversity Symposium: 'From the Personal to the Universal' at Salisbury Arts Centre last week, promised to be "an in depth look at Disability Arts and activism from the viewpoints of artists, producers, presenters and policy makers." There are myriad implications for Disability Arts and its activist role in the wider social context, but to my mind the Symposium itself did little to address the issues. I wonder if somewhere along the way, the glory of...

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'Opening Up Creative Culture' - Colin Hambrook discusses audio-description and the work of the RNIB Cultural Inclusion department

25 April 2013

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cover image of the book Shifting Perspectives showing a gloved hand touching a bronze sculpture of a face

I have long objected to the idea - encouraged in art school - that visual artworks, should by definition, only be able to 'speak for themselves' - and that any written or spoken text interpreting a painting or a photograph simply 'got in the way' of the viewer's imagination. Words, when used creatively, and in an accessible way add layers enhancing the viewer's experience of the artwork, rather than telling people what to see. Yesterday, Zoe Partington, Cultural and...

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Colin Hambrook looks back as DAO prepares to celebrate ten years in April 2014

28 June 2013

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Contact sheet of 15 stills from the Heads Up film, selection of heads shots of Sarah Holmes and location images.

In April 2014 DAO will be ten years old! We've had a mix of plentiful and lean times through those years as we've gone from project to project. DAO has come a long way since my first meetings with Kwabena Gyedu at the Arts Council in 2001 and the institution of a Disability Arts microsite on ArtsOline.  After DAO became independent in 2004, I never in my wildest dreams imagined the journal would keep going this long. Much of DAOs success in surviving has been down to a productive...

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Colin Hambrook gives an overview of Liz Crow's Bedding In Bedding Out.

16 July 2013

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Crippen Atos hammer cartoon

In April 2013 Crow produced Bedding Out as a 48 hour durational performance for the 'People Like You' exhibition at Salisbury Arts Centre. Having piloted the installation piece (as a DAO Diverse Perspectives commission) at the SPILL Festival held in Ipswich Art School Gallery in November 2012, Crow had time to consider how to up the level of engagement created in response to the live art installation. Through a livestream the performance was watched in over 50 countries; had a...

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Colin Hambrook urges DAO readers to interact with Liz Crow's Bedding Out

1 August 2013

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Cartoon showing a female wheelchair user being held poised over a pond labelled as an 'Atos test'.

In the run-up to taking Bedding Out to the Edinburgh Fringe from 9-10 August,  Liz Crow has been busy taking the many thousands of messages in tweets made during the last performance in April at Salisbury Arts Centre and formatting the conversations as a downloadable resource divided into topics ranging from talking about labels and identity, the reality of our lives as disabled people, the welfare system, propaganda and campaigning. You can find these if you scroll down the Bedding Out...

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Reappraisal of BBC Three's mental health season: Don't Call Me Crazy

7 August 2013

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array of newspaper headlines around anxiety, depression and other mental health issues

I recently ran a critical review of BBC Three's Don't Call Me Crazy season. It received a plethora of comments presenting opposing views, either castigating or applauding the programme makers. I made the mistake of just giving the programme a cursory glance. There is so much exploitative tv relating to a broad range of impairments including mental health, which sets out to manipulate the viewer down the same old path of tragic and brave storytelling. The usual format is to lead the...

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Liberty? What Liberty?

9 September 2013

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expressionistic drawing  of a wheelchair-user confined by a cube

I found myself wondering what David Morris - one the key people involved in the creation of the Liberty Festival - would of thought of last Saturday's event? In 2010 the festival was dedicated to his memory and the festival banners had his words: “Together we can change our world” – emblazoned across them. True, last Saturday was a good day out. I was grateful for the opportunity to see old friends - some of whom I hadn't seen for years. And there were some stunning...

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Trish Wheatley explains the Catalyst consultancy DAO is engaged in

17 September 2013

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Image shows cluster of logos for DAO, Salisbury Arts Centre, Stopgap and The Point

There’s something about the word catalyst that I find exciting and inspiring. It’s evocative of hope and change but also science and chemistry. The Arts Council’s Catalyst programme “offers organisations the opportunity to move their fundraising and development expertise onto the next level” Through a consortium project DAO, Salisbury Arts Centre, The Point Eastleigh and Stopgap Dance Company are using this programme to attempt exactly that. Each organisation has...

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Colin Hambrook gets ready for the 10,000 Cuts & Counting... ceremony of remembrance

18 September 2013

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Crippen cartoon showing a drawing of two men standing alongside a grave that has a gravestone that reads ‘RIP along with a wheelchair symbol.

Over the past week or so I’ve been working on helping get a memorial event together to mark the devastating impact of the Work Capability Assessment on the disabled community. Sometimes awareness of adversity can bring together the most unlikely bedfellows. I’m not sure who made the first move but campaigners from Occupy London - famous for camping outside St. Paul’s, have been meeting with Michael Meacher MP and the Cathedral’s Dean - The Reverend Dr David Ison - to...

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Karen's Story - RIP Karen Sherlock, Disability Rights Campaigner - Died June 8th 2012

25 September 2013

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Crippen ATOS cartoon with a wry comment on David Cameron's attitude to ATOS and the work capability assessment

I have been preparing for the memorial event in Parliament Square this coming Saturday and have re-read Karen Sherlock’s story on Bendy Girl’s ‘Benefit Scrounging Scum’ blog. Karen’s story is sadly not unremarkable – judging by the numbers of disabled individuals who have undergone intimidation and dehumanisation as a result of ATOS’ Work Capability Assessment. From the stories I’ve heard it is pretty much a lottery as to how you get treated by...

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Colin Hambrook on the 10,000 Cuts and Counting, memorial service and protest

29 September 2013

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The spread of Atos' tentacles. Cartoon by Crippen

I was asked by Occupy London to find disabled performers to take part in the memorial service and protest against ATOS and the Work Capability Assessment which took place on Saturday 28 September in Parliament Square. And so my thanks go to Sophie Partridge, Penny Pepper, John Kelly and Dickie Lupton who took to the stage to join their voices with those of many other disabled activists, MPs, GPs, the War On Welfare (WOW) petition and the Dean of St Paul's, the Reverend David Ison, who was...

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Colin Hambrook adds a vote of thanks to the intoxicating and cerebral survivor poet Dave Russell

25 October 2013

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woodcut of a man strapped to a table whilst being given electro convulsive therapy by a doctor in a white coat

This week Trish Wheatley and I have been busy making plans for new projects on DAO, getting ready to for DAOs tenth anniversary in April 2014. As one of the projects we hope to develop is a poetry prize, I thought I'd add a quick post on the first Outside In poetry event hosted by Pallant House Gallery on the 12th October. Simon Jenner penned a review of the event last week, but for those who were in attendance [and those who weren't] who wondered at the words of the wild and...

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Avant-garde or art as activism? Colin Hambrook discusses Disability Art in relation to Grayson Perry's Reith Lectures and Liz Crow's In Actual Fact

4 November 2013

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Liz Crow lies in her bed, white bedding, with red fabric draped across the sheets, a red rope barrier around the bed.

Since 1948 the BBC have been broadcasting an annual series of lectures by leading figures of the day addressing contemporary themes. It's over twenty years since there was last a Reith Lecture on the place of the Arts within society, so initially I was a bit non-plussed as to why Grayson Perry had been chosen to deliver a series which I normally associate with heady science or hearty politics. I listened to the third of the 'Playing to the Gallery' series of talks 'Nice...

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Colin Hambrook celebrates a JODI commendation for Liz Crow's Bedding Out

12 November 2013

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Bedding Out at Salisbury Arts Centre

This years Jodi Awards for equal access to culture for disabled people are soon to be made public. I'm pleased to say that an initial announcement made yesterday revealed that Liz Crow's Bedding Out received a Jodi commendation.  The pilot for Bedding Out - shown initially at the SPILL Festival of Performance in Ipswich in November 2012 - was a Dao 'Diverse Perspectives' commission, which just goes to show what far-reaching results can be achieved from a relatively modest...

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Colin salutes Oska Bright International Short Film and Digital Media Festival

19 November 2013

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still from the Oyster Project's film 'Timeslip' showing a Victorian gent on a cobbled street bearing a stick as a young woman walks away

Oska Bright has played an important part in my life since it launched in Brighton in 2004. Learning disability organisation Carousel's effort in showcasing short films made by and with people with learning difficulties is a spotlight on a largely hidden world. It's success is largely down to the committee of learning disabled film makers and artists who choose the films, run the festival and take screenings worldwide through their On The Road programme.  Dao has carried a blog for...

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Colin writes about Creative Future's Literary Awards and Dao's plans to celebrate our tenth anniversary

22 November 2013

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Photo of Dolly Sen standing on a step-ladder whilst screwing a light bulb into the sky

In the run-up to Trish and I putting together our next literary project to celebrate ten years of DAO next Spring it I went to have a conversation with Dominique De-Light, Creative Future Project Director. I was very pleased by the success of the Creative Future Literary Awards - not least because three Dao writers, Dolly Sen, Penny Pepper and Lynne E. Blackwood were amongst the 18 writers who received awards including a share of cash prizes. Up to summer 2013 Creative Future invited...

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Colin wishes all our readers the best for the festive season, looking forward to 2014

20 December 2013

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Crippen's favourite christmas card cartoon

Trish and I have had a busy year. Firstly I'd like to thank everyone for supporting Dao in 2013. We’ve had a fantastic year with many achievements. Many of our Arts Council funded Diverse Perspectives commissions led to further showcases of work, particularly for performance artist Liz Crow and wordsmith/ visual artist Gini who presented work at the Personal to the Universal Symposium with LinkUp Arts at Salisbury Arts Centre last April.  We're delighted to announce that...

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Colin kicks off 2014 with a look at one of Dao's most accessed pieces of in-depth content

7 January 2014

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normality training cartoon

Happy New Year to one and all. As a theme running through DAO's tenth year I want to draw attention to features in our back catalogue for those who may not be aware of the depth and breadth of the content in the journal.  Many of you will be aware of the value and importance of the Social Model of Disability to the history and development of Disability Arts, but may be confused or sceptical about the Affirmative Model of Disability which attempts to bring the theory into a 21st century...

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Colin discusses Unlimited asking can Art and politics be separated?

3 February 2014

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It seems to me as we enter deeper into the New Grim there is a need to question further what the role of Disability Arts is, currently. In a conversation with Mat Fraser recently we talked about why it is more pressing than ever for him to weave a discussion about the three models of disability openly and creatively into his one man show ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. Back in the late 1990s we always knew the Disability Discrimination Act was half-hearted. We persisted in face of...

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Look backing through the Dao archives and rediscovering Peter Street's war poetry

14 February 2014

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photo of pet Peter Street holding one of his collections Not Caild Fireweed For Nowt

We're continuing to reflect on the last ten years of Dao and part of that process has been pulling out highlights for David Hevey who is coordinating the next stage of the heritage bid to build a disability arts archive.  I could never resist Peter Street's poetry (there is rather a lot of it on Dao). I first met Peter at a Survivors' Poetry conference in Coventry in the late nineties. As I recall it was not long before Peter pushed himself to realise an ambition to become a...

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Creative Minds asks how do we assess 'quality' arts practice next week in Brighton

3 March 2014

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photo of two female dancers from Corali Dance company posing against a wall on which their shadows are cast in green

I am looking forward to the 'Creative Minds' conference coming up on 10th March in Brighton. Altogether 26 learning disability arts organisations have been working to create a series of conferences / events in various regions across the country. Carousel have taken the lead on the Brighton event. There will be performances, art and talking from: Action Space London, Chris Pavia, choreographer with Stop Gap Dance Company, Corali Dance Company, Face Front Theatre Company, Oska Bright Film...

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Trish comments on the Arts Council's No Boundaries conference.

7 March 2014

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As someone involved in the running and development of three cultural organisations Arts Council's No Boundaries conference was a must-see event. I for one was very grateful that the live-stream was an available option given an extremely busy programme of project planning and fundraising that has taken up the first two months of 2014. Dipping in and out of the stream over the two days, and then having the opportunity to return to the talks I missed the first time round or re-visit some of...

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