On 4 & 5 September 2018, Unlimited is hosting a global symposium on disability-led arts in the 21st Century. What’s on the agenda? That’s up to you. Jo Verrent, Senior Producer for Unlimited, explains.
Unlimited supports and celebrates disability-led arts – the creation of works across all artforms, creatively led by disabled people. We know that the work itself can be extraordinary, can be of the highest quality and can challenge public perceptions and indeed the way the whole cultural sector is designed and run.
In 2018, we want to amplify the change which we have been a part of and emphasise the quality and breadth of artistic work by disabled artists and the far reaching partnerships which help make them happen. It’s important for us that we involve initiatives outside of Unlimited which share similar context/values and focus on what is needed to embed such change within the cultural sector globally.
We don’t want to get the same people to talk about the same stuff, we want to create a space for genuine discussion, giving a platform for new perspectives and different voices to be heard.
What do we need you to do?
We want you to tell us the key current issues and opportunities for disability led arts around the world: why are we not further ahead than we are? Why are we still talking about the same barriers and limitations? What should the world of disability led arts look like in 2020?
We don’t have all the answers. We don’t even have all the questions. And that’s why we’re asking you.
How can you join in?
Help us to shape the programme by using the hashtag #UnltdSymposium and telling us what you think between now and midnight on Sunday 10 December 2017. What topics do you think we should we focus on at the Symposium? What, for you, is key? What do we need to do now to make sure things change and that disability-led arts thrives across the world?
You can upload an image, video or GIF, link to a paper, a blog or a website, link to people and projects or simply tell us in 140 characters what you consider to be the key issues and opportunities as you see them. Remember to make it accessible (for example, describe any images using text which you can easily do on Twitter).
What will happen next?
We’ll log every response that uses the hashtag #UnltdSymposium and work out the most popular areas for discussion – once the deadline has passed, we’ll streamline these into groups and these can be voted on in early 2018 to form the symposium programme.
The two-day symposium will be in London on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 September 2018 and will lead into the start of Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival (which runs from 5-9 September 2018). There will also be a smaller ‘pre-day’ on Monday 3 September for people who know less about Unlimited and the history and context of Unlimited/UK disability arts scene to provide context.
We want to facilitate an event that is fresh and forward-looking – not just about the past; not just focused on Unlimited, but one that looks across the wider UK and global cultural conversation.
We want to ensure disabled artists and companies are seen within the whole cultural sector ecology, but still the event will be disabled led and also include artists’ voices – there is a phrase used in the UK disability movement that says: ‘nothing about us, without us’ and we think that’s important. We also want to include international perspectives.
The event must be discussion based – the voices that we can hear should be those attending in all forms, not just those on any platform. The event will be interactive and engaging; and include interactive elements supporting audience interaction across the UK and internationally.
Whilst we want people to find out new things and make new contacts, we also want the event to be focused on action – we are looking for everyone to develop achievable and actionable goals as a result of attending to move the situation forward.
We are aiming, of course, to create an event that is accessible, open and inclusive – inclusive of different levels of experience, inclusive of different (intersectional) perspectives, that includes new, creative ways of approaching access for those both physically attending and those engaged remotely. Embedding those values starts here – with our call out for your thoughts and feelings about what we should be focusing on.
Here is your simple three point plan for action:
1. Decide what you think the key current issues and opportunities for disability led arts are around the world.
2. Post your thoughts to Twitter or comment on our Facebook post using the hashtag #UnltdSymposium
3. Spread the word – who do you think might have a perspective we’ve not yet seen? Help us reach out and get as many viewpoints as we can before midnight on Sunday 10 December 2017. You can share our Facebook post, retweet us on Twitter or share this blog.
So get thinking – and then get posting!