1 December 2004
Colin Hambrook talks to Jayni Anderton about her recent training initiative, working with Disability Arts Shropshire (DASh)
Providing disabled people with training that overcomes physical and attitudinal barriers has been a key issue within the Disability Arts Movement. After completing several courses run by North West Disability Arts Forum (NWDAF), I went on to set up The Way Ahead: Empowerment for disabled artists in 2002 - a Shropshire based disability arts development company, committed to equal opportunities in the arts for disabled people - and currently the only provider of this training at Further Education level in the country.
The Way Ahead strives to empower people who have been prevented by lack of physical and attitudinal access to learning in FE institutions. The course provides disabled students with a stepping stone to further learning or employment.
The Way Ahead is partnered with Disability Arts Shropshire (DASh), with funding from the Learning and Skills Council Shropshire and the European Social Fund and the support of Shropshire County Council and Arts Council, West Midlands. Now in the second year of pilot/feasibility funding, successful students on the course to run from 24 February to 27 May, will receive an accredited certificate from the Open College Network - West Midlands.
Jayni Anderton says:
There has never been enough access to the lower levels of education for disabled artists and it is no surprise that so few disabled people make it into the Higher Education arts fields. There is an urgent need for targeted training where disabled people can meet their peers in an atmosphere of mutual support and confidentiality this is achieved by using a local Arts venue to deliver the training.
We provide transport and a safe accessible space with a notetaker for each session so that students are free to concentrate on what they are learning and a care facilitator who provides general access support.
Friendships develop and people encourage each other. All students create an exhibition of their art work at the end of the course and this works well to encourage practical achievement.
The first course was terrific. Four students are now part-time tutors and workshop leaders in the arts. Two are going to develop their arts training further by attending the local FE. Another has now gone on to HE studies, a further two are starting an arts business together, and the remaining five have plans to develop their own individual arts practises further in the region. One of the students, Ben Broome was featured by the Learning + Skills Council in their Annual Diversity Report Moving Forward which is available on their website. Four of the students have become directors of, and consequently more involved with DASh, the Shropshire based disability arts initiative.
The Learning and Skills Council Shropshire and Job Centre Plus have been impressed, especially as they had knowledge and involvement whilst the training was being delivered.
Jayni Anderton is a disabled artist in her own right and through an LDAF initiative has recently put a piece of digital art work Artist @ Work on exhibition for a year at the ICI building in Manchester Square, London.
For more information about The Way Ahead go to: www.thewayahead-online.co.uk
Jayni Anderton is a disabled artist in her own right and through an LDAF initiative has recently put a piece of digital art work Artist @ Work on exhibition for a year at the ICI building in Manchester Square.