Disability Arts Online announces its first ever Guest Editor

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Theatre-maker and Agent for Change at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Kate Lovell will be guest editing Disability Arts Online throughout July and August. The guest editorship, funded through Arts Council England’s (ACE) Elevate programme, will mark the first time in its 15-year history that Disability Arts Online (DAO) will not be edited by founder and Editor, Colin Hambrook.

Kate Lovell

Kate Lovell directing. Photograph: Luke Das

DAO has been exploring the idea of bringing in a Guest Editor for some time. With Hambrook spending time developing his new project, Fool’s Gold with Outlandish Arts in Sydney throughout this coming August, it represented the perfect opportunity to pilot a guest editorship programme.

Colin Hambrook says:

“We’re always on the lookout to encourage a variety of disabled voices on DAO, dedicated to moving disability arts along apace. In terms of understanding the professional quality of arts written, directed, produced etc. by disabled people, being at the hub of DAO can inform you of current debates about access, discrimination and inclusion within the arts, putting you at the centre of a growing community of professional disabled artists.

The main advantage for an up-and-coming disabled artist looking to forge a career within disability arts is that DAO can give you a handy overview of what’s happening in the sector. It can help connect you to the people and to current issues affecting the development of individual artists and companies. And of course, it can give you a position from which to assert an informed opinion with confidence.”

Kate Lovell first came to DAO’s attention as a participant on its writing workshops for disabled artists, delivered in partnership with arts journalist, Bella Todd at Goldsmiths University from November 2015 to March 2016. The course was part of DAO’s Viewfinder programme, funded by an ACE Grants for the Arts award. Shortly after the course was finished, Lovell secured her current position of Agent for Change at Theatre Royal Stratford East, one of the Ramps on the Moon partners.

Colin Hambrook explains the decision to select Kate Lovell as the first Guest Editor of DAO:

“Kate soon established herself as an observant, intelligent and keen writer of opinion, reviews and interviews for DAO. Kate’s eagerness to pitch, to send us copy on deadline and to communicate generally, made her an obvious candidate for a trial DAO Guest Editorship. From our point of view, it will be interesting to see what new writing and writers come to us as a result of Kate’s engagement.”

Lovell’s guest editorship will cover four weekly newsletters, going out on 1, 8, 15 and 22 August, during which time she will write and commission a series of articles including reviews, interviews, opinion pieces and news items.

Lovell says:

“I had been interested in arts writing for many years, but had never been sure how to get my foot in the door. The DAO writers course was a turning point for me. It not only taught me the specific arts writing skills you need to get articles published, it also allowed me to understand that my disabled person’s perspective on the arts is important and valued.

I believe that DAO is offering something vital in documenting work by disabled artists that is not always picked up by other press outlets, as well as its commitment to employing disabled writers. A standout moment for me was interviewing a learning disabled artistic director, and discovering afterwards that this was the first time he’d felt comfortable in a press interview and accurately represented in the published piece. This kind of outcome is a direct result of having disabled writers interviewing disabled artists.

I had expressed an interest to Colin in editing for DAO in the past, and so when the opportunity to guest edit came up, I jumped at this extraordinary chance to become further involved with DAO. During my editorship I hope to bring some new voices to DAO; it would be especially exciting to get some younger disabled people writing for us during the summer. I am also keen to have a focus on learning disabled voices being brought more to the fore. I hope you enjoy reading the editorial I commission this month.”

Hambrook concludes:

“It’s a great opportunity for us to step back a little from what we do and assess it from a new perspective. We plan to learn from this exercise. We’re sure that you will enjoy the fruits of Kate’s labours.”