Disability Consultancy for Creative Change (DC4CC) was a disability-led research project in Spring 2021 that aimed to take vital steps in changing the landscape for D/deaf and Disabled professionals in the performance sector. The consultants undertaking the research were Kate Marsh, Linda Rocco, Catherine Turner, Liz Counsell and Jamie Beddard. They invited D/deaf & Disabled artists and audience members to share their experiences through open online group conversations, 1:1 sessions or via questionnaire. The resulting films capture the breadth of the conversations, the lived experience and wisdom of the participants, and make recommendations to the sector for change.
Commissioned by Arts Council England and supported by Metal, Cambridge Junction, New Wolsey Theatre and Colchester Arts Centre.
Open session 1: https://youtu.be/3iyDgceWYAg
Open session 2: https://youtu.be/qZ3FDBbk4f8
Open session 3: https://youtu.be/_L42TGvmSg8
Open Session 1
Try not to assume. Invisible disabilities are as important as visible ones.
Understand that access is multifaceted, changing from person to person and context to context. Be prepared to take on the work of access and action best practice, rathe than expecting the artists to do it.
Create time, space and alternative ways of applying for funding and opportunities. For example, what about BSL applications which are then evaluated by deaf assessors? Or allowing a candidate to answer application questions via a telephone or video meeting.
Make sure support for application processes is transparent and accessible. Don’t make disabled artists dig around for information. Doing this enables them to concentrate on the work they want to make.
Be prepared to observe, listen and learn from the disabled artists you engage with about the complexity around a lived experience of disability and embed this learning into the core of your organisation.
Open Session 2
Access should take a 360° approach beyond the ramp or the BSL interpreter. It should be a flexible welcoming attitude, in place from the moment an audience member enters a space to the moment they leave.
Venues, please put access information about your backstage areas for visiting artists (not just about accessible toilets and lifts – but expand to include information around rehearsal structures, time flexibility, schedule, etc)
Please carry on streaming content digitally after lockdown.
Explore and develop your understanding of intersectionality and embed this learning across all sections of your organisation.
Consider mental health support, technical provisions and childcare as part of the access budget. Access should not be outlined at the beginning of the project, but it should follow the development of the artist’s needs, as the workload develops.
Think about the different possible ways that people can apply for funding or for programming opportunities. A one size fits all approach does not meet the needs of all artists.
Give feedback on funding applications and suggest pathways for unsuccessful applicants. We noticed consistent themes of people not being made aware of the support that is available, for example in making funding applications. We also noticed a lack of tailored support from experienced peers.
Venues, organisations & hosts, familiarise yourselves, with discourse around models of, and understanding around, disability experience.
Understand that support and funding for disabled artists need to be more diverse, more opportunities so we are not all applying to (and being successful or unsuccessful from the same pot).
Recognise that one person cannot hold responsibility for all inclusion practices – venues and organisations should work with a range of individuals with lived experience to advise and support around best practice.
Open Session 3
Please consider, if you are encouraging disabled applicants to apply for a role, how you are able to support them to move forward into a leadership position, nurturing their ambitions past the initial stage of securing a role in your organisation.
Recognise that the experience of disability, resilience, and navigating barriers, are powerful assets to leadership roles.
Encouraging disabled people into leadership development training only goes so far, the training needs to happen at an organisational level and not just within the individual disabled artist.
Suggested list for further reading:
Vijay Patel and Rachael Young
Making the case to better support neurodivergent freelancers https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LxDgdY3Ed9qQWqWggRDnWmPDjolWTak8es2RhnjqvjY/edit
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (2018)
Care work: dreaming disability justice
Anna Harpin (2018)
Madness, Art, and Society: Beyond Illness
Georgina Kleege (2017)
More than meets the eye: what blindness brings to art
Garland-Thomson R (2009)
Staring – How we Look Oxford University Press; 1st edition
Kaffer, A, (2013)
Feminist, Queer, Crip Indiana University Press; 1st edition
Metal, Space In-Between, Berlin Edition https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvjf7eiba3g&t=2s
Davis, L (1995)
Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body, Verso
Lois Keidan and CJ Mitchell
Access All Areas: Live Art and Disability
Disability Arts Chronology https://www.shapearts.org.uk/pages/faqs/category/disability-arts-chronology
(now out of date but relevant)