New disabled artists manifesto launched calling for radical change 


A new manifesto calling for radical change in the arts has been launched. Not Going Back to Normal has been created following an open call out to disabled artists. Published as a website and a book, the project combines visual art, poetry, manifestos and more and includes contributions from 47 contemporary disabled artists.

collage with spray text: fit for work

Vince Laws, Fit For Work!, comic book page spread, 2020.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the world suddenly became interested in isolation, exclusion, and distance communication – issues which disabled people have experienced long before the pandemic. As the country locked down, disabled artists in Scotland were asked to re-imagine what ‘normal’ might look like in a radically accessible arts world.

Artists Harry Josephine Giles and Sasha Saben Callaghan have brought together contributions of art and ideas which show what the arts in Scotland could and should be like for disabled artists in the post-pandemic era.

Harry Josephine Giles and Sasha Saben Callaghan said:

“The representation of disabled people in the creative industries is woefully  small, and in some areas the numbers are falling. Report after report claims to  identify the problem and yet disabled artists remain underpaid, outside, and  stuck at the bottom of the stairs. Not Going Back to Normal is a provocation about how things are and an idea  for how things could be. This gallery manifesto gathers disabled artists in their diversity, rage, and imagination to call out the institutional ableism in the  Scottish arts and picture a future in which disabled artists are central.

Our artists have responded to these questions in many ways. Some have  written full-blown point-by-point policy manifestos for arts funders. Some  have written pleas from the heart to understand disabled conditions. Some  have reflected with joy on the creative and access possibilities of lockdown.  Some just chose to share art about the richness of their disabled lives. And  some called out the terms of our questions in the first place. We’d like you  to enjoy, think about and be provoked by all these works, and what they  represent together.”

Not Going Back to Normal was commissioned by a consortium of visual art organisations working together to address barriers faced by disabled artists in Scotland, made up of; Arika, Artlink, CCA, Collective (project producers), DCA, Glasgow School of Art Exhibitions, Project Ability and Scottish Sculpture Workshop.

Amanda Catto, Head of Visual Arts, Creative Scotland, said:

“In bringing different views and perspectives together NGBTN reminds us that we all experience the world differently.  It’s a rich and powerful platform that underlines the need for change in our society. Acting as a creative catalyst we hope that it will articulate and strengthen the position of disabled artists working in Scotland today.”