Disability Arts Online announces new commissions for disabled artists


In light of the unprecedented situation caused by the Coronavirus outbreak, which will hit the Disability Arts Online community doubly hard – adversely affecting both disabled people and the self-employed – here we outline what measures we’re taking, including a new commissions pot for disabled artists.

Camera recording a laptop with headphones next to it

What livestreaming or online ideas might you bring to the table?

We know these are scary times for people. Not only are people’s health and lives at risk, for many, so are their livelihoods. Even for those not directly affected, social distancing measures means greater isolation. But it’s times like these when your community becomes more important than ever, and we very much feel privileged to be part of such a compassionate, empathetic and caring community. Disability Arts Online is a relatively small organisation, but we are committed to supporting you in every way we can.

New Commissions

After a quick finance review, we’ve allocated £8,000 to a new commissions pot which disabled artists can apply to. You can be working in any art form. We can only accept applications from disabled artists based in the UK, though proposals with international collaborators, where a UK disabled artist is the lead are fine. There are three tiers of commissions:

Artist Presentations: Give a 30-minute artist talk from the comfort of your own home via Facebook Live and IGTV, then answer questions posted by viewers in the comments section for 15 minutes. Disability Arts Online will provide tech-support and a dry-run to get you up to speed. We will pay you a fee of £200 (up to 10 artists will be selected).

Day in the Life Articles: We are looking for a series of features that give an insight into the working life of an artist. Your feature could be more process-orientated and take us through a specific creative process. It could refer to a specific day but give an overview of your practice. It could be playful or profound, depending on what feels right to you. You could film or record your day and share aspects of it. How much you do or don’t talk about disability or impairment issues depends on whether or not it feels appropriate to share those with DAO’s audience. Commissioned artists providing a written article are encouraged to record an audio version to increase access. Video versions should include captions. £120 for written articles, £150 for videos (up to 10 artists will be selected).

Open commissions (£50 – £500): Pitch an idea for an online event, discussion, performance or exhibition – anything that can take place or be displayed online. These are open commissions so bring us your best ideas and let us know how much you think it’ll cost. Please consider audience access in your application (we will make additional funds available to cover these costs). Applications from partnerships or collectives are welcome.

To apply:

Email joe@disabilityartsonline.org.uk describing your idea, with a bit of background information about yourself. We absolutely welcome applications in multiple formats including audio, video etc. Deadline: Monday 6 April.

From April onwards we’ll also be commissioning content for the website for publication in May and beyond, so writers can pitch to us in the usual way.

Other Covid-19 steps

Existing commissions: Where we have commissioned an artist, writer or freelancer to do something for us affected by Coronavirus, we will pay them in full. Where possible, we will negotiate changes in commissions to accommodate the current situation such as reviewing livestreamed shows, delivering an artist talk on Facebook Live/IGTV or writing an opinion piece from home.

Paying promptly: We know freelancers are struggling with cashflow at this difficult time, so we will be expediting payments. We will aim to pay invoices within two weeks (and usually a lot faster than that).

Events: We are working hard with partners and venues to make sure all the events we had planned over the coming weeks and months will go ahead in some capacity. In some cases that will mean a livestreamed or online alternative, in others, it might mean postponement to a later date.

Spaces for the community to gather: Disability Arts Online has always been a digital space where our community could congregate and meet peers. If you haven’t already, join our 6000+ strong Facebook group, follow us on Twitter or Instagram. We are currently exploring ways we can have more get-togethers online, including facilitated workshops, socials and more. Please keep an eye on our social media channels for full details.

Talent development: We’ll be offering more of our free one-to-one Artist Development Sessions via Skype/telephone/Facetime during the crisis. That’s an hour of dedicated time from one of our experienced team on any number of topics. We’ve also continued to deliver our Diverse Critics talent development programme for four aspiring disabled journalists in Scotland remotely, which so far has been a success.

Content: If social distancing or self-isolation is driving you up the wall with boredom, our great content will be continuing unabated. We have a Guest Editorship from the brilliant Sandra Alland coming up over the next four weeks. You can catch up with the first 10 episodes of the Disability And…Podcast here (or on the podcast platform of your choice), if you haven’t already. We also have some great guests for the Podcast already recorded, including Sarah Gordy on Disability and…Sex, Sandra Alland hosting a conversation about Disability and…LGBTQIA+ & Class issues, Alexandrina Hemsley and Deborah Williams talking Disability and…Race and Birds of Paradise’s Robert Softley Gale on Disability and…the Mainstream.

Events listings: Most in-person events currently in our events listings are likely to be postponed or cancelled. However, it’s still a great place to advertise (free of charge) and discover livestreamed or online events.

Keep up to date with the latest Coronavirus guidance from the NHS, stay safe and look after each other!