I have recently been elected to the Executive of the Artists Union of England.
There has never been a time more relevant for unions or when thay have been needed as much as today in the face of pernicious austerity and dogmatic cuts that benefit the rich and leave the poor to get poorer. As Disabled Artists we are doubly dammed in the current econmic climate.
More information can be found here http://www.artistsunionengland.org.uk
Artists’ Union England is a new trade union for professional visual and applied artists. Unlike other cultural professionals, artists have had no collective voice in the form of a trade union, to represent them at work and to lobby and advocate on their behalf.
As a trade union, run by volunteers, we aim to represent artists at strategic decision-making levels and positively influence the value and role artists play within society.
I have been appointed the Disability Associate for Salisbury International Arts Festival. I am looking at the organisations activity within a Disability context.
For exampe one of my first 'actions' was to ask all the staff what came to mind when they heard the word 'Disability' and when had they felt 'Excluded'. Next up provoked them to think about their language - I am not there to tell, or be perjorative - more to catalyse self and organisational reflection - there was a lot of 'mentalist' language being used as stress was rising. Such as bonkers, very popular, or manic or crazy or nuts etc. The 'mad money' jar is filling up nicely - though not so fast now. In fact one of the staff picked me up on my language - so that was a success.
I have written something for the website of the festival here https://www.salisburyfestival.co.uk/editorial.php?ref=Focus-on-disability although it can be seen below.
Some thoughts from Aidan Moesby, the Festival’s Disability Associate
When we think about disability there is a tendency to imagine the visible and the physical. Perhaps an image of a person in a wheelchair springs to mind. However the diversity of disability is much more complex than this.
With the legacy of the particularly successful London Paralympics in 2012 and the images in the media due to recent global events, we are becoming more accustomed, and hopefully more tolerant, to those not just with visible disabilities but also those with hidden ‘impairments’. The Invictus Games are a good example of this and increasingly the focus around mental health issues.
However, there is still much to do around accessibility, discrimination and stigma with regard to disability. The Festival already programmes outstanding work by and about artists with Disabilities. This year sees Candoco and Owen Lowery visiting Salisbury and An Angel at my Table is being shown as part of a Kiwi film double bill. And to further its work around this, ASIAF has taken the bold step of having a Disability Associate to experience and respond to the Festival.
As Disability Associate I am taking a look at the work of the Festival as an organisation through a disabled lens. This includes exploring the attitudes and language around disability, accessibility and equality across the range of activities of the Festival.
During this year’s ‘City Encounters’ I became The Bureau of Audience Discrimination, to playfully highlight the random and often contextless way people with disabilities experience both ‘passive’ and ‘active’ discrimination in the everyday.
Throughout the Festival at Salisbury Arts Centre and the Playhouse I have curated a series of changing interventions which highlight issues around disability in a playful and gently provocative manner. Continuing my ‘Headlines’ work with my imaginary newspaper, ‘The Daily Compulsion’, I will show a changing headline of questions and statements which people with disabilities often experience or are directly challenged with. In addition, in the Playhouse a plinth with a bell jar atop will house a changing installation which highlights some of the pejorative language and stereotypes around mental health.
Come and join me at an open table at Salisbury Arts Centre between 2 and 3pm on Saturday 11 June. I am inviting people to join me to discuss or comment on any issues raised by interventions during the Festival and to discuss broader issues around Disability, Equality and Accessibility.
I look forward to meeting you.
Supported by Unlimited Impact