One of the best things about this trip to the Fringe has been meeting other producers (trainee and pro) to have a good old rant, especially when it’s in an absinthe bar full of circus honeys. Hey, when I’m working late I want to be at a party, even when I’m not drinking (touch me, I’m a saint).
I’ve spent the week banging on about funding, curation, policy, mentoring, what a racket the Fringe is, what a great thing the Fringe is, how far disability arts has come and how far there is to go….
What excites me the most about disability arts is that so many of the people involved are so deeply politicised, resistant and subversive. I love a rabble-rouser, a shit kicker, an eloquent arguer for justice and anti-bullshit, and I personally see the world as hornet’s nest that needs to be kicked every once in a while lest we settle for too little. It’s up to you wether you do it with art, activism or rhetoric.
Explicitly political work of any nature can be difficult to get funded and appreciated by the mainstream, and so the value of a clear and simple message for any arts project is easy to grasp. With so many barriers left to blow up for disabled folks generally it can be tempting to focus solely on the specifics of access, but having sniffed around for a few months now I’m starting to wail the siren song of intersectionality in the hope of luring a few sluggish vessels onto the rocks of progress. And I’m not the only one.
The arts in the UK are white as fuck, middleclass as hell and I’m only partly convinced that the sudden surge in feminist enthusiasm isn’t going to be regarded as a phase the minute Bryony Kimmings drops her sprog. This is NOT good enough.
As far as disability arts goes, for a movement tied so closely to the politics of equality I’m shocked by the number of backwards statements I’ve heard from folks working in disability arts regarding gender, specific impairment groups, age and sexuality.
Nobody is politically perfect but if we really want the arts to reflect the full diversity of life then it doesn’t start with inclusion policy, with the Creative Case, with Equal Opportunities or curated showcases; it starts with us, all of us, making our equal-mindedness LOUD AND CLEAR and calling out anyone for using sexist, ageist, homophobic, racist or otherwise derogatory bullshit language.
Yeah, I know it’s a pain, (I miss the days when I’d just kick out the headlights of curb-crawlers rather than talking to them), but what is the point in fighting for equality for some if others are left out in the cold?
More power for one doesn’t mean less power for the other- the nice thing about empowerment is that it is limitless. Yeah, I’m talking from a position of relative privilege- white, invisible impairments, educated- but top to bottom, gallery volunteer to organisation director, we are all responsible for making nice, levelling the playing field and trying not to be a total ass-hat.
[DAO writers, you’ll be delighted to know I’ve added ‘feminism’ and ‘intersectionality’ as tags in the CMS so you can write about them to your heart’s content now.]