Disability in British Arts today

Yesterday evening, I took part in an online Zoom session with Disability Arts Online discussing disability in British Arts and conversation of ways of curating disability art practice.

It was amazing listening to Disability Arts Online founder and senior editor Colin Hambrook share is paper about artworks from across the four decades. After his presentation we all (50 plus) took part in a discussion. What cropped up were the need for gallery systems to be more accountable and not just be a box ticking process. To understand the need and importance of equality to the arts for culture and recording history.

To not perceive art as a commodity but a process, an experience for self expression, identity, culture, history to have a voice.

Hambrook explained an important point about artists who choose to identity as being disabled and artists who choose not too, for example Andy Warhol. On reflection Frida Kahlo, I wonder if she was alive now what her thoughts would be about disability arts and accessibility with the gallery system.

My personal thoughts are as follows,

Arts Councils need to be more accountable about how the funding is being used and do be committed in the outcomes by going to exhibitions, workshops, studios to feel part of the projects not just liaising with artists via emails and online forms. There needs to be real relationships and connections between the arts council and artists to develop sustainability, legacy etc.

Evaluation should be fundamental to outcomes and process of projects not a last minute consideration. And evaluations that are in depth and accessible not always recorded by pen to paper either.

Curators to attend more discussion groups, often curators leave the artists to attend professional development workshops but curators should be taking part to get grass roots feedback.

Educate about what is ART? a commodity or a process/creative experience. This seems simple put it is all about education as well./

Gallery Systems if you can’t beat them join them or do it yourself I say. Start Artist led spaces, co operatives led by the artists.

Creative Growth in Californian is amazing.

Heres a short video of an Art Exhibition curated and exhibited by adults with learning disabilities in Swansea. I was the artist facilitator who worked with this incredible group of artists. It’s an example of how important engagement in the arts should be for everyone. To be embedded in our everyday lives not a just a luxury for the few.

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