Disability Arts Online announces its latest Guest Editor

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Disability Arts Online (DAO) is delighted to announce North-East-based disabled artist, Lisette Auton as its third Guest Editor. Auton will take the reigns as Guest Editor from January to March 2019, commissioning 12 pieces of original writing and authoring 4 articles of her own. Her guest editorship will focus on emerging artists, with a regional angle and a strong emphasis on intersectionality.

Lisette Auton sitting with legs crossed

Lisette Auton. Photograph: PaperBoat Photography by Laura Tindall

Lisette Auton becomes the first DAO Guest Editor to be chosen from an open-call process which saw 21 extremely strong candidates apply for the opportunity. DAO’s Guest Editorship programme will now be a twice-annual feature made possible by Arts Council England’s National Portfolio funding. The aim of the guest editorships is to develop new editorial voices in the sector and bring fresh perspectives, new audiences and different approaches to DAO. It is intended to challenge the organisation, challenge DAO’s audiences and become a platform for experimentation, diversity and intersectionality.

Auton is a disabled writer, spoken word performer, poet, actor, creative practitioner and theatre-maker. She has a BA Hons in Theatre Acting: Devised Performance from Bretton Hall, a JNC Professional Qualification in Youth Work and an MSc in Community Development and Youth Work. She is an award-winning poet and is a shortlisted novelist on Penguin Random House’s Write Now scheme for underrepresented writers.

Her spoken word performances focus on disability, mental health and politics, using lyrical techniques to spiral out from the personal to the universal. Recent commissions include Deranged Poetesses: Mothers at ARC, and Between Waves a collaboration with award-winning garage jazz trio Archipelago to create new work.

As a creative practitioner, Auton specialises in working with people whose voices are not fully represented in the mainstream, designing and delivering unique workshops ensuring that the arts are open and accessible to all. Recent work includes designing MIMA’s schools programme and working on their Celebrating Age Project, as Movement Facilitator on Occupation by Pauline Heath at ARC, and delivering poetry workshops for PopUp Poetry Durham.

Speaking about her Guest Editorship, Auton said:

I’ve been secretly scribbling for over a decade then in a whirlwind of a year things have happened. Why was I in secret? Because I had no clue how to move in an ableist world as a Disabled Creative Person. I didn’t even know it was possible. Why did I think that? That’s one of the themes I want to explore over this Guest Editorship.

In a change-your-life encounter at ARC, Stockton I met Vici Wreford-Sinnott. Here was a power-house of a disabled creative woman who was absolutely taking no shit. I fell a little bit in love. With her support I questioned the title of Disabled and why I could/should/would own it (hello opinion piece!).

This past year I’ve won awards for poetry and short stories, worked as a creative practitioner, been shortlisted on PRH’s WriteNow programme for my novel, been in residency with a jazz band, worked on a theatre piece and so much more. I’m trying to work out where I fit in and where do I go from here? What is the next step? Is there a next step?!

What does it mean to be a disabled emerging artist in this time of austerity and on the brink of Brexit? What does it mean to be a Northern disabled emerging artist? What does it mean to be a Northern emerging disabled artist who intersects with other marginalised groups? Where are all the mentors? Would I still be a secret scribbler if I hadn’t found Vici? How do we make ourselves more visible?

I hope to use this Guest Editorship to ask, and possibly answer, all these questions with the help of other emerging artists that you really need to get to know.

This opportunity is a dream for an emerging writer; to be mentored, to be given such a prominent position, to challenge myself, scare myself, to learn. I’m strapped in and ready for the ride…