Disability and the arts

Disability and the arts

For budding artists or art enthusiasts

One aspect of life that is open to all people is the desire to create art. Some like to draw, others like to write. Some like to build things. Cooking can be a creative exercise. Creativity can be expressed in many ways. It is intrinsic to the human condition.

We will examine people with a disability who may describe themselves as artists. This is from the Australian Council for the Arts.

‘Artists with disability are vital contributors to Australia’s arts and culture. They create work that offers excellence and artistry, as well as unique perspectives and lived experiences that challenge and redefine aesthetics.

Artists with disability are under-represented, earn less than’ their counterparts without disability, experience unemployment at higher rates, and are more likely to identify a lack of access to funding as a barrier to their professional development.’

While it seems clear that there is room for improvement, a person with an internal drive to make art does not require to be paid to do so. Artists of all backgrounds and abilities struggle to make a living of any kind in a small country like Australia. Don’t let the limited opportunities prevent you from expressing your creativity. (Especially in Covid times. Most artists have lost their work, and the ones that are continuing are doing so in a much reduced capacity).

The industry does recognise the need to open up possibilities to people with disabilities. There are now more exhibitions, competitions and areas to create art in than ever before. And it’s getting better all the time.

‘While creative participation has remained steady among the Australian population, it has increased among people with disability – from 35% of respondents with disability in 2009 to 49% in 2013, and to 61% in 2016.’

Going Out

In one area of significant change is the attendance rate of people with a disability to arts events. This is really positive and exciting. You don’t have to identify as an artist to attend events. And with more awareness and easier accessibility to venues, more people are physically getting to events. This was before Covid of course. Today, the arts world is slowly opening up again. Let’s take theatre as an example. Socially distanced events are happening. And there are plays etc being streamed live. The larger companies have more money to do this, so don’t forget to support the small guy. They are struggling more than anyone.

Streaming is not quite the same, though great for people with physical disabilities who would rather not leave the house in the current Covid world. There is that extra risk to people more susceptible to health problems. Yet there’s nothing quite like being there for yourself. Let’s hope, post Covid, we all get a chance to get back to those art events we love.

Where to Go

Arts Access Australia (AAA) is the national peak body for arts and disability. You can visit their site at https://artsaccessaustralia.org/. There are opportunities, projects and much more available. Swing past, join up and get involved. Or simply learn more about what’s out there.

If you’d like someone to help you gather materials so you can create art at home, or need support to get to a venue, or for any other reason, we are here to help. Please get in touch.

You can email or WhatsApp here https://phmhealth.com.au/contact/ or call us on 1300 941 450.


Anthony Langford at PHM.

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