why is “Disability art” so shit- And why cant we say that?

Convener(s): Lisa Hammond

Participants: Rachael Spence,guils driver,lucy foster,sam Yates,Julie macnamara,sarah gean cousins,willie white,Michael spencer,kirstie mckenzie,angela mcsherry,alex hassett,eva lipa’rora,Monique sterling,Richard haylow,tom w,dan marsden,sally mare,polly mesely…  (please correct any names on the list,appologies if I haven’t spelt any names right!)

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

there aren’t many disabled performers.  Other people said that they had never seen any “disability art”.

Over funded and underskilled.  Why not a move to mainstream instead of having specific disability work.  Don’t like the word disabled,why are people categorised and branded?  Because they are.  The need to address disability is important but the way in which it’s addressed should be considered more carefully.  Scared of offending.

People don’t judge disabled work in any way equall with “normal” shows,feel like you are getting a clap just for being there and being alive. Role models,and the lack of them.  Ghettos. The issues within disability art and world/community/society issues are the same.

How do we invite the next generation of atists with disabilities to come forward. Lack of skill base. Ticking boxes and ticking boxes within the disability world too. Going away from the actual art.

Rural areas not getting enough funding. Company called “Grin and bare it”.

Graeae and its role within disability arts,instead of presuming that other abled bodied companies can learn about how to behave around disability/accessability(physical and creative) from Graeae,why cant it be the opposite,seems strange that there a bit of a one way street where everyone asks “how do you do it?” and Graeae say “This is how…” to have a two way street that’s creative and challenging. The role of disability “access advisors” should be done in a creative way.  We have to accept that not everything is accessable to everyone all of the time. How do we move on and not make disability an issue anymore? Why cant we just be human beings? Someone has to challenge the people who are making the big decisions about big projects-challenge their idea of “the beautifull people” on t.v,film and theatre. People casting the easiest option-don’t want to make the leap of faith or do some work,so many actors put in categories. The want to do good often turns a bit wrong/patronising.

Not possible to develop work,because not many people are honest enough to tell you it was terrible.  Same people,same audiences in and going to disability based work.  Intergration. No quality control.  Artists with disabilities knowing they are more likely to get funding,being solicited. Take advantage of the situation of being solicited.  Positive discrimination having a detrimental effect.

Doesn’t make sense to have a disabled theatre company in terms of the social model of disability,works for funding?

Casting should see a disabled actors for the role of a character that is disabled but if they are terrible then they should be free to cast an abled bodied actor.

A lot of training avalible is just through disabled companies. The issue aroung disabled artists all being bunched together is that you multiply access issues and everyones needs are very different so therefore along time is spent on trying to work all tha out before you actually get down to work/training/making.  I dont want to wa\ste all this time when we don’t get enough time to be creative as it is.

Access needs should be the backdrop. And should be a consideration like any consideration.  Companies are prouder of how accessable they are and not that bothered about the work/art.

Audiences are not aware of what kind of performer they want to see until they see it. Playing to audiences intelligence not ignorance. They want to see other human beings on stage. Actors with disabilities should be able to play both disabled characters and other characters. Not focusing on It the whole time. audiences must be given the chance to look at you,to be intrigued and shocked or whatever,difference is acknowledged allowed in and then its not something to create barriers,u can get on with the work.  The actor with a disability is the best person to tell u what they can do/cant do,as they know their bodies better than anyone else. The feeling of going on stage and not being able to believe when people say you are good.

Being comfortable with incorporating what happens in a group of mixed abilities into the work you are doing,not putting on kid-gloves.

There are some companies with mixed ablity groups doing work helping to break down barriers. Doing good work and if its terrible then all work of that kind gets branded as bad. Assumptions about shows with disability as its focus.

Critics wont ever say anything bad about actors with disabilities,they would never say your shit,cause they’ll clap u for just being there.

As a pefromer with a disability you feel like u have to be extra good,because of having funding on a plate and why that drives you to be extra good. Why do we have to end up writing our own work because there is no space for us anywhere else. Who will be honest with you about your work.

A worry for directors feeling like they don’t know how to be p.c.

We shouldn’t worry in our work about giving audiences time to look at performers and get to know them and there bodies-whether actor is disabled or not.

Hard for disabled actors to even get an audition for a role of any sort apart from a cripple characterand not wanting to wait around for that part (that’s probably not going to be v.good anyway).  The sense after you’ve worked with some companies in t.v/theatre that they have somehow now “done” disability so they don’t have to think about it anymore. No disabled actors in soaps. Do u ever even see disabled passers by in the background? No! and yet in the real world you often see people with disabilities.

Holby city a man with cerebral palsy that doesn’t have much movement in his hands playing a trainee surgeon,p.c gone mad.. why not a peadatricion/phycologist?

Please add if theres anything ive not got!