FEDS is live

The exciting Film Exhibition, Distribution and Sales Trainee Scheme (FEDS) is live!

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Our career-making FEDS scheme is now open!

If you want to get into film but can't see a way to do it, this scheme is for you. FEDS is a proven route into the film industry and you will:

- get eight months of London Living Wage paid training at a film festival or cinema in York, Stirling, Glasgow, Cardiff or Sheffield;

- make a creative contribution, become a valued member of the team and learn a range of skills

- get a CV that will put you ahead of the competition

- attend regular industry sessions that inform you about the whole film business.

This scheme has helped dozens of people get their start in film, with over 80% staying in the film industry.

We want to make the film industry more inclusive. People of colour and people who consider themselves to have a disability are underrepresented in cinema and festival jobs. That's why we strongly encourage applications from these groups.

All you need to do to apply is fill in our short application form by 18 October. You don't need past experience, but you do need to have a passion for films and audiences. Read more here.

Ways of Seeing Art

Exploring the links between Art and Audio Description...

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Six months ago, Shape took part in Tate Exchange with a programme featuring a series of art workshops, a showcase of work by the artists shortlisted for Shape's 2017 Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary, and a Symposium exploring the links between audio description and art. 

To accompany this programme we created a booklet highlighting the barriers disabled people face in the arts, with an emphasis on blind and visually impaired people, and to encourage arts organisations to experiment with their audio description offer (as well as other forms of access) so that a richer, more creative experience is provided for the public.

You can access a free digital version of the booklet at www.shapearts.org.uk/news/ways-of-seeing-art-booklet 

To purchase a physical copy, please email marketing@shapearts.org.uk

The Incorrigibles

Perspectives on Disability Visual Arts in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

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In 2015, DASH was awarded funding by Arts Council England and in partnership with mac Birmingham, to create a book, an encyclopaedia if you will, of the most pertinent and esteemed disabled artists in the UK. It published in 2016, sharing it's birthdate with the 40th anniversary of Shape Arts. As a trustee at DASH and as an emerging disabled artist, the development of this book was of interest to me.

The definition of the term 'incorrigible' is boldly stated at the beginning; "(of a person or their behaviour) not to be changed or reformed." This definition acts as a necessary introduction to the book.

Adrian Plant and Tanya Raabe-Webber, two artists who identify as disabled, discuss just that. The decision to self-identify and the impact that has can be both problematic and beneficial on an artist's work, particularly in the mainstream art world. They introduce the motive of the book being both an enlightening tool and necessary celebration, against a place where disability arts is still largely discredited. They explain how Cultivate, a bespoke mentoring project for disabled visual artists, and acted as a foundation talking point and catalyst in the creation of this book. Most of the artist's featured in the book were part of such groups, and so it rings throughout the book as important reference points.

Craig Ashley's short essay discusses how the book came to fruition from the symposium Awkward Bastards. There is a clear reaction from the notable lack of presence from such a book and the disability arts lack of recognition in the mainstream arts world is frustrating. He gives a detailed account of political views:

"We felt there was a question around legitimacy that also needed to be framed as part of the conversation, to acknowledge the historical context of exclusion and subsequent civil rights action in Britain during the post-war period."

He touches on the issue around the legitimacy of the mainstream arts world, and discusses the positive movement that can be taken from the symposium, notably that the Arts Council cited diversity to be 'a key issue in relation to the programming and audiences, leadership and workforce of all our funded organisations.' from 2014. He references the Black Arts Movement as a means to illustrate a similar need for a revolution to push forward the Disability Arts Movement. Ashley gives an informative, honest yet optimistic hope for change, in which Awkward Bastards clearly encapsulated.

Tony Heaton begins his own essay by quoting Bill Bryson on the surprising figures of British Inventions and how that includes disability arts, as a unique springboard to an informative view of the Social Model of Disability. He gives a historical account of how the politics of disability has challenged local authorities, given access to the arts and built positive relationships that have led to the current form of disability arts.

The Incorrigibles are 14 selected visual artists discussing their practice. They were asked 6 questions that aimed to provide "inspiration and advice to the readers of this book" in which it most definitely delivers.

The sorts of questions posed were not in anyway assuming, and instead scoped an interesting and colourful portrait of them as individuals, as artists, and as disabled people, along with the difficult question around self-identifying as a disabled artist. The use of questions very much dictated their answers;

"What/who inspired you to want to become an artist"

"What were the main personal challenges you faced during your early career as an artist and what strategies did you develop?"

"As an established/respected artist can you reflect on your relationship to the so called 'mainstream' museum and art worlds?"

"In what ways has the existence of the 'Disability Art movement' helped or hindered your career development?"

"Tanya Raabe-Webber identified herself to be a disabled artist, borne out of the Disability Arts movement. How do you choose to define yourself as an artist and why?"

"What advice would you consider most vital to give an emerging Disabled Artist and why?"

Although many of the artists simply feel their destiny was to always be an artist, or that their education nurtured them into becoming an artist, many of the artists felt it grew from a form of rebellion against mainstream views imposed on them during their youth, which comes as no surprise to a disabled artist. This notion spurred self-led teachings of their chosen art form; in fact, disability led many of them to art. As David Hevey says, "Just when it couldn't get any more weird; it did: I got epilepsy. This was both the final and terrible end, and the enlightening beginning of the rest of my life."

Jon Adams is an esteemed artist specialising in abstract digital illustrations.  When asked about identifying as a disabled art maker, he answers, "I am artist first and yes, I'm an autistic person".

Perhaps this view of self-identity aids the positive relationship he has with the arts sector in which he works.

"I have actively been chosen for projects because of my Autism/Asperger's... If you want to see work that is different, commission people to think differently, but also think differently about the way you commission and treat them...to be honest I've never registered that there is anything other than mainstream; I don't like using the word mainstream as it implies segregation... The work should speak for itself."

This I think is agreed from most art makers whether disabled or not, Bobby Baker makes the equally important point that rather her disability, she feared of being ousted at St Martins for being simply being a woman and not conforming to housewife ideals.

Juan delGado also echoes this point of view.  Highlighting the ever-growing how the digital landscape gave him and other independent filmmakers the platform for real artistic success on a mainstream stage.

One of the highlights of the book is the contribution from Sue Austin. Sue Austin is a wheelchair user who uses herself as the subject in her work. Her work encapsulates the term 'disability arts', as her chosen images from 'Creating the Spectacle!' depict her 'Flying Free' through a coral reef in her wheelchair. This body of work, as she explains, I personally was delighted to see her included in this book. I wrote my dissertation on the disabling images the media portrays, I found her work to be the most notably? against the argument in my research.  I found myself nodding in agreement when she states, "I feel a sense of recognition and shared identity with Disability Arts that acknowledges the complex realities of the disability experience."

These are just a few accounts of the importance of disability arts and the liberation of disability arts. "Disability Arts exists and I for one feel better and stronger in knowing this."

Statements like this by Heaton, are peppered throughout the book, shouting loud and proud about disability arts, and thereby creating a medium to talk openly about the history of disability arts, it's current position in difficult times, and encourages discussion and optimism for it's future.

The Incorrigibles offers viewpoints around political movements, and erased rich history, often overlooked by mainstream arts. It acts an empowering tool that any artist should be proud to have on their bookshelf to fully understand the complexities of an important genre of art.

Exciting news!

DASH is very pleased to make the following announcement...

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DASH is delighted to announce Arts Council England funding for 2018 – 2022.

DASH's application for additional investment was supported, which means that we can expand our partnership work commissioning Disabled artists and create a new Disabled children and young people programme. 

How can we do this with just three part time staff? The increased investment means that we will be able to expand our team with an Engagement and Learning Manager and a Marketing & Communications Manager.

The Board and staff would like to say a HUGE thank you to Arts Council England, the organisation and the staff team for all your support over the years. 

And of course a HUGE thank you to all our supporters, from so many arts, cultural and media and third sector organisations, all the individuals, artists, freelancers, participants and funders, who have made it possible to continue our work. 

We have BIG plans over the next four years, so make sure you watch this space for the latest projects and news. Did I mention DASH will be 20 years old in 2021? – Time for a celebration?

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England said: "Creative talent is everywhere, but opportunities are not, which is why we're thrilled to be increasing our investment in DASH over the next four years. It'll be great to see them continue to support disabled visual artists, as well as using our funding to create a new programme for disabled children and young people to get involved with art and culture."

Read the full press announcement by downloading the PDF below.

AB2 - Review

A review of Awkward Bastards ABSENCE by Poppy Noor.

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When I arrive at the Awkward Bastards second symposium I am not sure what to expect. The event, hosting radical artists across two days promises to be one filled with diversity and difference. But as a non-white woman who spent my teenage years living in homeless hostels, I never know what to expect when people say the word 'diversity' anymore. It feels like a word that's always said to me – normally by someone who is middle-class, white, and probably male. But I don't feel like a particularly 'diverse' person, I just feel that I am normal and I want to be represented.

Lewis Davey, an artist who stands for a 5-minute rant at the end of the day, sums this feeling up perfectly and with brilliant humour. He is talking about an American Footballer, who was criticised in the States for not standing when the National Anthem was played,

"It's just some guy's favourite song.” He retorts. "Trap Queen by Fetty Wap is my favourite song. Imagine if I asked you to stand every time I played it!"

The line is funny because, for those of you who don't know, Fetty Wap is an African-American rapper who is blind in one eye, has tattoos on his face, and sings about "getting high with [his] baby, and "getting fly with [his] baby." Just thinking about all of the people that I so frequently see at galleries, with their knee-length skirts and stiff-upper lips having to stand to that song makes me equal measures giddy and uneasy. But of course, he has a broader point: this is what being forced to try to appreciate art that wasn't made for you is like.

It's something that Frances Morris, who refers to the Tate as “warm” and “safe” in her keynote speech could do with remembering. When artist Jamila Johnson-Small calls out these comments in a panel discussion for performing  â€œillusory false empathy, which perpetuates erasure” she reminds me that a lack of diversity is about so much more than just being underrepresented. When I go to the Tate, I don't just feel underrepresented: I feel as if my culture, and the people I grew up around simply didn't exist at all. The panel brings to light how discussion around diversity in these spaces is so often more than just complacent – it also sustains the narratives that prevent inclusivity from happening.

Diverse art means the ability to inform and educate. It draws us away from seeing people, multi-faceted as they are, in the singular boxes which mainly act to undermine those who do not fit into the pre-packaged, heterosexual, able-bodied, white form of 'normal' that we are constantly fed. But at Awkward Bastards, I realise how we can all too easily fall into the trap of viewing art through the lenses of familiarity and privilege. When artists take to the stage to lament the lack of disabled artists' works displayed across the country, I realise how little I have questioned the fact that rarely have I seen such art displayed outside of hospital walls and school hallways. “My art is not therapy" says Sarah Watson, a multi-media artist with a learning disability, â€œIf it was therapy, I'd be paying for it. This is my job."

Trite arguments about simply choosing “the best” artists are ripped to shreds by panellists on the day. One ranter scorns the official artwork commissioned for the Paralympic Games, a colourful drawing of Big Ben by an able-bodied artist from the States. “What does it even represent?” she asks. What's most shocking about this is how much good quality art could have been commissioned in its place. When I see Sue Austin's "Deep Sea Diving" installation about life in a wheelchair, it isn't magical because she's in a wheelchair. It's magical because Austin conjures up emotions, insights and sensations in me that I could have never brought up myself. When she presents on how 3D technology could meaningfully bring art to audiences otherwise unable to access it, it is innovative because she speaks from a place of understanding what it is like to have that access so frequently blocked from your life. It's not the checkbox of diversity that feels good about the event, it is how diversity is facilitating me to understand and think about things in a way that I hadn't before. Isn't that what art is supposed to be about, after all?

At the end of the symposium, I think about how I have felt most validated at times when I have felt reflected in art and broader culture. It feels like being written into a story that you long knew you should have been a part of. But reflecting on the performances which came from experiences most different to mine, I realise that reading someone else's story can, in the end, be so much more interesting than reading your own.

Extra-ordinary bodies

Coming to Telford this August!

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The active and creative communities team are looking to recruit 24 local people aged 18+ to create two groups of 12 participants who will each spend three days working with extra-ordinary bodies.

www.extraordinarybodies.org.uk

We are looking to recruit an even split of both people with a recognised disability and  those who do not perceive themselves as having any specific needs. Also on our radar are people who may have ended up isolated through circumstances life has thrown at them. 

The theme being explored through circus and conversation  is what does it means to be alive in 2017.

This  project is running across the country with one of the UKs strongest outdoor theatre companies who are seeking to inform a show they are developing for 2018. The project will also highlight what the talents and aspirations are of those who take part. We were approached  in part because of record in community arts, events and our track record in engaging creatively with people with disabilities.

We are seeking people from all walks of life to take part and would like a 50/50 split of those with and without  disability.

Shape Arts

Updates from Shape Arts recent mailing, including new grants!

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Brand New R&D Grants from NDACA!

Applications are now open for the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA)'s new Research and Development mentoring grants for emerging disabled artists!

NDACA, the Disability Arts Movement heritage project delivered by ourselves, is inviting UK-based emerging disabled artists to apply for one of four Research and Development Grants, which include mentoring by a key artist involved in the 'Golden Age' of the Disability Arts Movement. Applications are open to artists working in any art form, and they do not have to match the practice of their selected mentor.

Artists are invited to submit a personal statement about their artistic practice and a proposal of how they wish to make use of the grant award to us by 30 June 2017. 

For further information on how to apply, please visit: www.shapearts.org.uk/news/ndaca-rnd-applications

 

Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary: Oliver MacDonald at Turner Contemporary:

Join us for a free artist talk by our Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary (ARMB) recipient Oliver MacDonald in the Clore Learning Studio. On his penultimate day at Turner Contemporary, Oliver will be discussing his ongoing artistic practice and work, and reflecting on his three month residency, followed by an audience Q&A session. 

Tickets are free, but places are limited so please click here to let us know you're coming.

You can also introduce yourself to Oliver's work by reading our five minute Q&A blog with him at: www.shapearts.org.uk/blog/five-minutes-oliver-macdonald

 

Artist profile - Aidan Moesby:

Aidan Moesby is a visual artist and curator whose work increasingly explores civic and personal wellbeing. His practice is based around research and response, much of which is underpinned through conversations. These may be real, overheard, visual, imaginary or even virtual. He works extensively within arts and health, especially where art, technology and wellbeing intersect.

Moesby is fascinated by how we communicate and connect with ourselves, each other and the worlds we inhabit - He produces responsive interventions in which the works serve as the catalyst for a personal or communal exploration through an internal or socially active/engaged conversation.

Click here to read Aidan's profile in full.

 

We are seeking a Project Manager for NDACA:

The National Disability Arts Collection & Archive is a Heritage Lottery Fund project, delivered by Shape Arts, which will bring to life the heritage story of the Disability Arts Movement, a radical arts movement in which a group of disabled people and their allies broke barriers, helped change the law and made great culture about those struggles.

We are currently looking for the right Project Manager to deliver NDACA - click here for a more detailed read & apply by 8 May.

Time to get registered

Register, vote - and have your say!

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#CripTheVote is "geared towards both engaging the disability community in discussing the policies and politics that will most impact our lives but also to use our collective power to amplify the community's voice on these issues."

Click here to view the latest email newsletter from Shaping Our Lives, which explores the forthcoming General Election.

Kickstart for print run of 'DSM 69'

Taking a subversive look at psychiatry...

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My publisher Eleusinian Press-  http://www.eleusinianpress.co.uk/ - is publishing a book of my writings and art, taking a subversive look at psychiatry, called 'DSM 69'.

It is a small press and they have started a kickstarter for a print run.

I would appreciate support of the project, either in donating or sharing the kickstarter page on your networks: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1203601213/dsm-69-a-subversive-look-at-psychiatry-by-dolly-se

Thanks for taking the time out to read this, and all the very best,

Dolly Sen

http://www.dollysentraining.com & dollysen.com

March/April newsletter

There's lots of project updates in the latest DASH newsletter!

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Click here to access the March/April 2017 newsletter from DASH - with updates on the INSIDE project, reflections on Awkward Bastards ABsence - and details of our next Audio Description Training event in Cardiff, taking place on Wednesday 10th May.