Who is We Shall Not Be Removed?
We Shall Not Be Removed was developed by disabled people as an emergency response to the pandemic, to ensure we aren’t left behind or left out of discussions. We wanted a forum of voices to advocate and campaign for disabled creative practitioners and organisations at all intersections in our communities. We wanted to support each other through and beyond Covid. Membership is genuinely open to all and we believe firmly that we are stronger together. It is member-led and shaped, and so please don’t sit on the outside wondering if this is for you. You have a say in what we are. This is for everyone and everyone must have an equal voice. Please use yours. We now have almost 700 members!
The aims of the alliance are:
● To ensure a sustainable future for disability and inclusive arts in the UK through and after the pandemic
● To amplify the voices of D/deaf, neurodiverse and disabled creative practitioners & disability arts organisations at a time of crisis for the arts and for disabled people
We launched on 6 May and held our first meeting on 4 June. Membership of the new alliance has already reached almost 700 individual disabled creative practitioners, disability arts organisations and those that work inclusively, from across the four UK nations, across artforms and across impairment groups. We are completely open to new members all the time to be sure that we reflect the full diversity of disabled people working in the arts.
What We’ve Been Doing
We’ve held two We Shall Not Be Removed campaigns to date, and formed a number of working groups.
The first campaign was an open letter to The Secretary of State of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, together with all devolved UK culture ministers, demanding safeguards to protect the future of disability arts in the UK as a consequence of COVID-19. Over 150 disabled artists and cultural leaders signed the letter.
The letter is currently hosted at Graeae Theatre’s website, where it is also available in BSL Interpretation, Easy Read and as an Audio Flyer.
The second campaign was a social media roar day on Wednesday 17 June when disabled artists from across the UK celebrated the depth and diversity of inclusive & disability art on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, using the hashtags #WeShallNotBeRemoved and #EndAbleism
The campaign was designed to raise awareness of the magnified inequalities for disabled people working in the arts caused by the pandemic, as many disabled artists face long term shielding, loss of income and invisibility in wider society. We flooded social media and achieved over 17,000 tweets and trended in the top three on twitter all day.
It’s clear from culture statements from UK governments that we are having a significant impact. We Shall Not Be Removed.
Announcing Our Third Campaign – #InclusiveRecovery
At our most recent all alliance meeting, we announced our next We Shall Not Be Removed campaign for an #InclusiveRecovery of the arts sector! We must not be left behind as the arts and culture sector re-opens.
The campaign invites everyone to share their opinions and examples of what an #InclusiveRecovery means to them, moving forward. Statements accompanying paintings, poems, arts, quotes, anecdotes, simple thought-tweets are all welcome throughout August as we build our international conversation about how to revive the arts in the most inclusive way possible!
Just use the hashtag #InclusiveRecovery and we’ll be archiving everyone’s contributions to help guide a new set of principles being created for a safe and inclusive return.
If you have any questions regarding the campaign, need the password for the resources, or want to know how to get more involved, please email email@example.com
There has been a lot of media coverage about us which you can find here
Who’s In The Zoom
This is a new series of talks, seminars and discussions about disability equality in the arts. Our first two were with Arts Council England and focussed on the new information around project grants which recently re-opened.
Kamran Mallick is coming up at our next all alliance meeting – details below – and Unlimited is hosting a couple of meetings to share information about their new grants, the dates of which we’ll publish soon.
Our first meeting and gathering point for members has been on the platform Slack – there isn’t a single fully accessible platform yet designed, and so Slack helped us gather people and share initial ideas. However, it is not accessible to all and so we have been developing new ways to ensure people have information, are included, and can get involved.
It isn’t easy as so much about access in the digital realm is outside of our control. We were delighted to receive some funding from Arts Council England, and recently Arts Council Wales, for accessibility. In England we have been able to appoint an Access Coordinator 3 days per month to support booking access for meetings and creating information in a range of accessible formats.
Whilst Slack has a number of discussion channels and an announcements page, we now have a website, this brilliant DAO blog, a twitter account, and are developing an email system so that we can send information directly to your inbox.
We provide all of our information in standard print, Easy Read, large print, audio, and BSL video.
Our working groups (detailed below) work through emails and zoom and are generally now off slack.
We’re developing an access strategy and Little Cog created this guide to hosting accessible online meetings
We hold a monthly All Alliance meeting for all members to attend on zoom (and we share as much information as we can about making zoom as accessible as possible and obviously share information as widely as we can). Our next meeting details:
The date for our next all alliance #WeShallNotBeRemoved meeting is Friday 11th September at 11.00 am – 12.30 pm
The theme of the next meeting is disability rights themed and how the arts contribute to activism. Very much what our We Shall Not Be Removed campaigns are all about. We will be joined by Kamran Mallick, CEO of Disability Rights UK. If you would like to be updated when the agendas are available, please follow us on Twitter or sign up to our brand new mailing list via the form below.
The meeting will be hosted by Robert Gale & Michelle Rolfe from Birds of Paradise Theatre in Glasgow!
Fully accessible with captions, BSL and audio description. Meetings are relaxed and you can stay off camera, and come and go as necessary.
How To Get Involved
You can get in touch with any of our current working groups if you would like to get involved in a specific way, or within a particular context.
Access Group: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disabled Artists of Colour Group: email@example.com
Campaigns Group: firstname.lastname@example.org
LGBTQIA+ Group: email@example.com
Also in the process of emerging are groups focused on the screen industry, visual impairment accessibility, learning disability and more. If you’d like to get involved in a focused way and don’t see a prompt for it here, if you’d like to join slack, and also if any of the links you pressed are password protected, please do just get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
You can sign up here to our brand new mailing list! It’s nothing without you so what are you waiting for – let’s end ableism together – please get involved!