What more can be done to support disabled people in the arts as artists, participants, and audiences in rural areas? A recent study has shown the South West is trailing behind when it comes to engagement in disability arts. We think the Somerset Diversity Forum offers a great opportunity to address this.
Up country, Rural Arts North Yorkshire is working with Unlimited, a national commissioning programme enabling new work by disabled artists to reach UK and international audiences. Together they are holding a conference/action day to discuss arts and disability. They have invited the Somerset Diversity Forum to join them via live digital hook up. Think Eurovision: "Hello Bridgwater, Thirsk calling."
Simultaneously in North Yorkshire and Somerset we will run practical sessions, with a focus on realistic solutions, and then come together digitally to discuss our findings.
Take Art is working with Somerset Film and Somerset Art Works to deliver this day, which aims to increase confidence and build networks by providing an honest and open space to move the conversation about disability and the arts into action.
If you are an artist, performer, venue manager, member of the public or anyone who works in arts and culture with an interest in issues around disability, then do come and join the conversation at the Engine Room in Bridgwater.
Wheelchair accessible spaces including toilets, please notify of any additional access requirements by 25th Jan to ensure solutions can be found/providers booked.
To book your place and discuss access needs please email Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org
Outline of the Day
Access Everywhere will start with a live video touch point with Rural Arts and Unlimited, so everyone from both sides of the screen can meet each other.
There will then be two recorded provocations from local and international artists with disability to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face.
The provocations will be followed by a game and facilitated discussion examining ‘Barriers and Solutions’. We will then link back up with Rural Arts and Unlimited before breaking for lunch.
The afternoon session will start with a live provocation from Jonny Cotsen, a deaf artist who has a show called Louder is not Always Clearer, which has toured to Edinburgh Festival in the British Council Showcase and in 2020 will be visiting over 20 rural touring venues.
We will then run two consecutive sessions on rural touring and hidden disabilities before concluding with the final live touch point with Rural Arts and Unlimited to share learning from both events.