CRIP Tribute 2021 – Eleanor Lisney

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As part of the CRIP Awards 2021 series which commemorates the achievements of disabled people, this month we acknowledge the work of disabled activist Eleanor Lisney, co-founder of the experimental collective Sisters of Frida and other ground-breaking projects.

A caricature of a disabled woman of colour

CRIP Tributes 2021: Eleanor Lisney. Image by Dave Lupton

Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.’

These were the words that Eleanor Lisney, disabled activist, took as her rallying call to bring together a diverse group of disabled artists to create live events and a series of films, focusing on access to culture not just as consumers but also as practitioners.

As part of this Culture Access project her focus has been on platforming multiple marginalized artists, especially including disabled women of colour. Together, they discuss access to alternative culture – to other than those mainstream activities that they find themselves excluded from, like food, music events and other outdoor activities.

Those of us who know Eleanor see her as somewhat of a conundrum, often in the background but at the same time leading the way in many innovative and challenging projects. With funding provided by the Isla Foundation this has included participation in Black History Month, and the Disability History Month with the ‘Intersection of being Disabled and being a Person of Colour’ article.

Eleanor also co-founded Sisters of Frida, a disabled women’s collective exploring new ways of sharing experiences, mutual support and relationships within different networks including non-binary disabled people. Supported by Woolwich Centre Library, the group are seeking to build an experimental network of disabled women who struggle to have their voices heard as disabled women in their own right, sharing experiences and exploring intersectional possibilities.

Eleanor was also a co-founder of the national Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) organisation and has protested against the Covid motivated blanket Do Not Resuscitate directive issued by the NHS along with other members of the UK Not Dead Yet Campaign (UKNDYC).

It is with great pleasure that we award Eleanor Lisney this month’s CRIP Tribute 2021 for her inspirational and innovative work with other disabled people.