Fiona in a black and white chequer dress looking to the left of camera
Photograph of Sokny Onn at Southbank Centre's Unlimited Festival 2016. Image by Rachel Cherry

My International Placement – Sokny

Sokny Onn, General Manger at Epic Arts, was one of our International placement holders in 2016. Sokny shares her reflections with us.

I wanted to work with Unlimited because I agreed with the programme’s aims of wanting to change the public perception around disability and emphasising the positive contribution 
that disabled artists and companies make. I also thought it was important that they commissioned high quality work led by disabled 
artists and help to develop a sustainable legacy for innovative world-class art by disabled artists. I also agreed with Unlimited’s values of Creativity, Ambition, Quality, Diversity and Equality.

When I saw this job opportunity I felt it was an excellent fit with my knowledge and experience that I had gained with Epic Arts in Cambodia. I also believed this work would help me to extend my experience and learn more about the disability and inclusive arts scene in the UK.I was delighted when I received the opportunity to work with Unlimited for five weeks in London.

I did not know fully what to expect from the placement but I thought that this would be a good opportunity to further develop my evaluation practices, and learn the best practice for documenting events. I hoped that I would learn about the logistical skills needed for festival event management and I thought that I could act as a good ambassador for the Unlimited programme, promoting it’s aims to a wider network. I did all of these things and on top of that, I also experienced new ways of making performances accessible for audiences. It was great to see that Unlimited advocates and influences funders and government bodies and makes positive changes through the arts in both social and policy levels.

What surprised me about the Unlimited festivals, both at the Southbank Centre and Tramway, was about the diversity of art-forms that disabled artists were making work within and the possibilities open to them. I met so many remarkable, amazing disabled artists, producers and organisers. I also gained a better understanding of the difference between the different models of disability. The most important thing I learnt was the history of disability policy in the UK.

This opportunity gave me so much encouragement and positive power to carry on what I am doing now. I feel like I am not alone in the arts and disability field. The fact that I am surrounded by excitement, creativity, energy and positive work through the arts has helped shape my passion more strongly with what I am doing now at Epic Arts back in Cambodia.

This work has given me an opportunity to work with many groups of people from different cultures. I have developed new partnerships through this network. Unlimited connected me to a great network. In my work at Epic Arts I am going to develop online audience evaluation and also look at increasing ways of making our work accessible. I will use a remote platform for working within my team. I am also will keep in touch this network for shared and exchange knowledge about arts and disability.

The teamwork between the Unlimited and British Council teams and myself are the best memories, even thought the busy schedule we still have a really strong relationship and respect each other.

Thank you Unlimited, Artsadmin, Shape Arts, Arts Council England and British Council for supporting and giving me this valuable experience. Thank you as well to Epic Arts and Cambodia as the country. Thank you to Unlimited team, new and old partnerships for sharing your knowledge and making me feel at home and part of community.

My Unlimited Placement strengthened my passion that the arts are for everyone. Disabled or non-disabled. We are all human. We deserve love, life, happiness and to live in our society with respect.

Sokny has been a valuable part of the Unlimited Team. Our Project Manager , Clara Giraud, recently visited her in Cambodia. We look forward to continuing our relationship and welcoming Sokny back as a panel member for our International Commissions in Spring 2017.