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Disability Arts Online – Sharing Disability Arts & Culture with the World

The Adventures of Super-Crip cartoon with an image of a blind super hero wearing a red costume and large black visors leading a family along a railway line. The caption reads: “BLIND Super Crip guide train crash passengers to safety… with his super enhanced hearing”

Super-Crip © Andrew Tunney

We are small but committed disability-led organisation set up to advance disability arts through the pages of our journal. Our raison d’être is to support disabled artists, as much as anything by getting the word out about the fantastic art being produced by artists within the sector.

We give disabled artists a platform to blog and share thoughts and images describing artistic practice, projects and just the daily stuff of finding inspiration to be creative.

We know that being an artist is a hard road to travel and that being a disabled artist takes extra layers of resilience and fortitude, so we give support by connecting you with like-minds primarily through our social media networks. In a more limited capacity we will respond to email requests for information and advice.

Primarily, we publish editorial, blogs and showcases of art, providing a place where opinion pieces, reviews and interviews can be shared and commented on. We have a small commissioning budget and are always looking out for pitches from disabled writers, so if you have a proposal for an arts opinion piece, review, or blog about your artistic practice then do email editor Colin Hambrook via editor[at]

Disability Arts Online offers a means for the wider arts sector to engage with disabled artists by sharing professional opportunities on our listings pages, reading about their work on blogs and editorial and in some cases, with partnerships facilitated by our consultancy services.

Disability Arts Online’s listings cover disability arts and culture related events as well as accessible performances of mainstream work. The listings also has a section for arts jobs and career development opportunities, artistic commissions, residencies and competitions.

When and where we can, we like getting out and about to speak at conferences and to produce events at festivals. As well as doing Disability Arts Online, our Director Trish Wheatley has extensive experience as a producer of performance and visual arts, and our editor Colin Hambrook has worked on many performance poetry events.

Our understanding of disability arts and culture is informed by the Social Model of Disability, as an antidote to the Medical Model of Disability, which assigns us as rejects in need of being fixed in order to conform to normative values. We see disability arts and culture as a supportive environment where experience of barriers we face as disabled people can be shared and our lives valued.


Our latest and biggest project Viewfinder is the reason for the relaunch of Disability Arts Online. You can see our archived content going back to 2004 by clicking on this link. As part of the Viewfinder programme we hosted a series of writing workshops for disabled artists with renowned arts journalist Bella Todd.

We are in the process of launching a new video-based platform featuring new video commissions, curated playlists and live streaming of arts and culture. We’ve been busy behind the scenes working with partners SPILL Festival, SICK Festival and Carousel on a series of video playlists and commissioned film highlighting arts practice from within those organisations that reflects a disability / Deaf perspective on the arts.

Who is Disability Arts Online?

Trish Wheatley is Disability Arts Online’s Director and works three days per week. Working in the arts sector since 2005, she has developed a passion and specialism in working with and supporting disabled artists having started her career at Holton Lee curating and managing the Disability Arts programme. In 2009 she moved into freelance work and has a significant portfolio which includes: Shape, London, LinkUpArts in Salisbury, consultancy work for Disability Arts Online, project development for many individual disabled artists and the creation of Freewheeling. Her other part-time work is currently as the Project Manager and co-producer for Freewheeling which produced Sue Austin’s Unlimited commission, ‘Creating the Spectacle!’.

Colin Hambrook is Disability Arts Online’s editor, working three days per week. Colin set Disability Arts Online up initially as a channel on ArtsOnline in 2002. In 2004, he registered Disability Arts Online as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, setting the journal up as an independent organisation. Since then he has strived towards his vision for the site as a journal dedicated to work by deaf and disabled artists, which reflects on disability as a social and political construct from a Social Model perspective. He has worked in the field of disability arts for 20 years having produced a variety of web and print based publications in that time. He is also a disabled artist in his own right and has two illustrated poetry collections to his name. Knitting Time published by Waterloo Press in 2013 was shortlisted for a Ted Hughes Award.

Joe Turnbull is Disability Arts Online’s subeditor and project co-ordinator. He studied Politics at the University of Manchester but has since gone on to pursue a career in arts journalism. He has written for the Guardian, Apollo Magazine, Frieze, a-n News, this is tomorrow and Garageland. He was previously Politics Editor at the Inky Needles publishing group and Publications Editor for Art Map London. In 2011 he helped establish Novel, an arts and culture magazine based in his native North East. Joe has long been an outspoken critic of the hierarchical power structures of contemporary society and campaigns for the rights of various marginalised groups.

Disability Arts Online’s Board members

Michelle Molyneux (Chair) is a visual artist and passionate business leader with a proven track record of fiscal responsibility, strategic thinking and working in amazing teams. She studied art history, philosophy and economics and politics. Over the past 15 years, she has worked with leading creative and cultural organisations such as Fuse Magazine, Fuse played a pinnacle role in providing reporting and critical thinking on socially and politically engaged art practices; Gallery Gachet, a collectively-run exhibition and studio space run by participants with mental health, trauma and addiction experience and the Craft Potters Association and its Contemporary Ceramic Centre, a commercial gallery and Ceramic Review magazine, all promoting excellence in ceramics.

Amy Zamarripa Solis is a producer, writer and artist. She has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, a journalism qualification from University of the Arts London, and community development qualification from Trust for Developing Communities. Amy has over 18 years of experience producing multi-art form projects in the UK with strong arts and cultural partners and networks. She is founder and Programme Director of Writing Our Legacy – a literature organisation focused on supporting Black and ethnic minority writers and writing in the South East of England. She is also runs her own arts production and management company, This Too Is Real, specialising in arts, heritage, culture and diversity. She is managing Devonshire Collective, an exciting arts regeneration project and venue for Eastbourne. She is a Board Member of AudioActive as well as Disability Arts Online. She is involved with Brighton & Hove Black History, Brighton Black History Month and the ART:sync Network for diverse cultural practitioners.

Penny Pepper, a genre-defying and versatile writer, her work is a mixture of the quirky and the lewd, with a focus on the examination of difference and identity. She wrote the taboo-breaking book Desires Reborn in 2012 and in 2013 she won a Creative Futures Literary Award. In September 2014 her one-woman spoken word show, Lost in Spaces, premiered to strong reviews at Soho Theatre and is due to tour in Autumn 2015. As a performance poet, she has performed over the UK, including London, Edinburgh and further afield in New York. Besides recent guest slots on Newsnight, Sky News, BBC Radio5Live Hitlist, and columns for The Guardian, she is busy working on a memoir of her first years in London as a young, passionate punky poet, singer and disability activist.

Dr Colin Cameron is a Senior Lecturer in Disability Studies at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne. He has been active in the disabled people’s movement since 1992 within organisations including the Northern Disability Arts Forum, Inclusion Scotland, Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living and Shaping Our Lives. As well as writing sardonic short stories and poems his more serious work includes book chapters and journal articles on Disability Arts and identity in, e.g., Emerging Issues and Insights in Disability Studies, The Community Development Journal, Popular Music and Parallel Lines. His PhD thesis, ‘Does Anybody Like Being Disabled?’, involved clarifying and developing the affirmation model,  a non-tragic framework for making sense of the experience of living with impairment in a disabling society. His book Disability Studies: A Student’s Guide, is published by Sage.

Alison Wilde is a Senior Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University. Alison has written mainly on topics of screen media, disability, gender and audiences, in addition to researching and publishing on disability and education,educational inclusion, parenting, gender, social and health care. She also teaches on sociology, inclusive education, disability, and research methods and supervises doctoral work on a number of topics. She co-founded the MeCCSA Disability Studies Network, and the BSA’s Disability Studies group. Her first book on comedy, film and disability will be published in the summer of 2018.

Dr Emmeline Burdett gained her PhD from University College London in 2011. She is an associate of the Centre for Culture and Disability Studies (CCDS) at Liverpool Hope University, and a book reviewer for H-Disability, which is part of H-Net, an online humanities resource run by Michigan State University. In addition she sub-edits for Disability Arts Online, and edited a number of chapters of Dr Colin Cameron’s book Disability Studies: A Student’s Guide. She contributed a chapter on Eugenics to the same book, and has also written a chapter for Dr David Bolt’s forthcoming book Changing Social Attitudes towards Disability. Her interests include disability and bioethics, and portrayals of disability in the arts.

Richard Butchins is a filmmaker, author and artist, his work veers between the political and the personal. He regularly makes investigative documentaries for TV such as Panorama and Dispatches, using undercover filming, often to expose abuse of disabled people. His artistic work, on the other hand, is personal and relates to Neurodiversity. He has had two books published – one a novel – Pavement – and the other a co authored biography of the actor Bob Hoskins. He is currently working on an international project funded by Unlimited.

Consultancy and Partnership Publishing

As well as filling Disability Arts Online with great content, we also help others in the arts and cultural sector to improve their work with disabled artists and audiences. The way we work with each partner is develop around their needs at a particular point in time so at the beginning it’s about having a conversation to find out how our expertise can help to build their knowledge and confidence. Quite a lot of this work tends to be focussed around the Creative Case for Diversity* and Disability Awareness sessions, but often also leads to fruitful creative project-based partnership work.

People we’re working with:

British Council: having initially been contracted on a consultancy basis to support the refresh of the Disability Arts International website – a platform designed for international arts programmers, venue managers and policy-makers. We’ve been working on updating the site and producing a regular newsletter every six weeks since June 2016 as part of a rolling contract. Each newsletter has been themed to reflect and promote a range of concerns affecting the arts and disability globally.

Unlimited ( is an arts commissioning programme administered by Shape and Artsadmin that enables new work by disabled artists to reach UK and international audiences. DAO has been a media partner since 2012. Our contract within the current Unlimited program is to profile Unlimited artists pitching content to a wide range of platforms with recent successes in securing publication with Artshub, The Stage, a-n, ArtsProfessional and Theatre Times amongst others.

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra: We are supporting the orchestra’s change maker’s project, which sees disabled conductor James Rose develop an integrated ensemble. At the beginning of the project we provided training with an experienced Disability Equality Trainer for the entire orchestra and administrative team. We are now supporting the dissemination of the project through James’ blog on DAO.

Creative Diversity Network (CDN) have partnered with all the major film and media companies to assist the process of documenting diversity data for the industry. We have been advising the team on the accessibility, content and language – specifically related to disability, used on the site.

Disability and Community: Dis/engagement, Dis/enfranchisement, Dis/parity and Dissent: (D4D) is a four-year AHRC funded, Connected Communities programme research project investigating with disabled people the evolving ways in which disabled people express, perform, experience and practice ‘community’. Our role has been to administrate the design, building and updating of the website, as well as acting as co-leader on Electric Bodies – one of the eight strands within the project that looks at the history of the development of disability arts practice and its impact on disabled artists.

We also partner with projects to support the creation of resource material that documents the history of disability arts practice.

National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA) is currently bringing to life the heritage and rich history of the Disability Arts Movement. April 2018 sees the launch of a website with an online catalogue of over 2000 images, interactive learning resources and a series of oral history films. DAO is supporting the telling of a heritage story that began in the late 1970s by producing a series of recorded contextual essays, recorded interviews and audio-descriptions of specific artworks to be accessed online as part of the presentation of material from the archive in the new NDACA wing of Bucks New University.

Disability Arts in Surrey (Daisy) is a grassroots organisation working across the county to support participatory arts practice with disability groups. We partnered with Daisy and the Surrey County Libraries Service to deliver Our Future Selves – a series of spoken word events and creative writing workshops across the county in Autumn/ Winter 2017. Funded by ACE Grants for the Arts the project is continuing through Spring 2018 with a series of follow-up creative writing workshops with the groups we worked with last year.

*The Creative Case for Diversity is a way of exploring how organisations and artists can enrich the work they do by embracing a wide range of influences and practices. DAO worked closely with the Arts Council through the development of the Creative Case and delivered the website for its launch.

Other partnerships and consultancy activities are in the pipeline: we always welcome enquiries about working together. Please email Trish Wheatley, CEO, Disability Arts Online at trish[at]