Caroline Bowditch is in a dark theatre space in costume as a golden snail. She is waving in the direction of an audience, whilst Jo Verrent stands behind her with a microphone. They are in front of an Unlimited PowerPoint presentation that says ‘Welcome’.
Photo by Rachel Cherry

Caroline Bowditch reflects on Unlimited: The Symposium

We spoke to Caroline Bowditch about the session she chaired at Unlimited: The Symposium and what she took away from the discussions…

What did you learn from the session you chaired and the Symposium? 

It was brilliant to meet Abid Hussain from Arts Council England and hear such commitment from a funding body. Abid has since been in Australia, bought over by Diversity Arts Australia, and we have met up and I saw him present at Sydney Opera House. He and I have definitely developed a mutual admiration society for each other. Seeing and hearing Abid present re-energised me and reminded me that equality needs to be prioritised in order for change to come. He talked about planning for talent development, in order to eventually change the bodies and therefore potentially change the artistic aesthetics.

I’ve also been thinking further, sharing and using Rachel Coldicutt’s Five steps to change.
(You can watch the film of the panel discussion below where Rachel explains what this is)

 

What are you going to do as a result of the Symposium? What are your actions?

In my new role as Executive Director at Arts Access Victoria, I am about to go into a process of creating a new organisational strategic plan. In the breakout session the brilliant Barak Ade Soleil talked about the importance of holding space for disabled artists to emerge, grow and thrive. This comment really stayed with me and grew and developed further in my head and has now prompted four strategic questions to emerge that are likely to form the basis of the organisations new strategic plan.

The questions that I’m working with are:

  • How do we make space for innovation and collaboration?
  • How do we hold space to allow a new artistic aesthetic to emerge and develop?
  • How do we invite disabled artists to take space?
  • How do we grow the intersections of equality?

I have been asking these questions of staff at Arts Access Victoria, artists, arts industry members, arts organisations and funders over the past couple of months with really interesting responses.

 

What, if anything, surprised you about the panellists’ provocations, the online conversations, the subsequent breakout session or the Symposium itself?

I think I’ve been amazed at how many people had read and continue to refer to the blog I wrote in advance of the Symposium. It’s been great to be able to send the link of the conversation to the Arts Access Victoria staff, Board and others in the industry here in Australia. Having gone into the breakout session without much of a plan, I was really surprised at how easily the conversation flowed by just asking the question ‘What’s resonating or staying with you from the panel discussion?’ People in the breakout session had lots to say and the allocated time flew by.

 

Caroline Bowditch is Performance Artist, Choreographer, Provocateur and Executive Director at Arts Access Victoria, Australia.

 

Watch the full Attitude Panel session:

 

See what was discussed on social media.

FROM THE BLOG