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Unlimited UK – A personal perspective

DATT Project Officer, Katherine Annear recently travelled to the UK to experience “Unlimited UK”, the Cultural Olympiad’s Festival of the World Disability Arts component. In all there were 29 commissioned works produced by artists with disability and their associated Arts Companies, here are some of her thoughts;

“In their presentation these works ranged from gritty grapplings to highly resolved works with high production values. Of value to the Festival programme was the series of talks and debates that complemented the festival works.

Through their works many of the artists attempted to document, inform, shape and resolve many aspects of disability culture. Some of the work was blatant in its subject matter and chronicled historical and current disability activism. Other work tapped into more universal themes of longing, loss, pain, resilience and so on.

Of interest was the dialogue between disabled and non-disabled artsworkers and practitioners around creating disabled-led works and informing disability culture. This dialogue was reductive in that it failed to address issues such as race, class, gender and sexuality but nonetheless it was fruitful in terms of positioning the disabled as power brokers.

The question I was left with was how do you take learnings that are geographically and culturally situated in the UK and translate them to Australia and the Asia Pacific.

I had a chance to unpack this at the Arts Activated Conference just last week. I spoke to the auditorium of artists, artsworkers and arts administrators about disabled led work and supporting education and emerging aesthetic. This was well received and much thought provoked. I also had the opportunity to see examples of emerging disabled led work I was most impressed by the South Australian group of Tutti Artists leading the Sit Down Shut Up and Watch Film and New Media Festival. This is group of people with intellectual and learning disability who are leading all aspects of this festival.

We have a chance for new and exciting beginnings in Australia and DATT is looking forward to launching its new disabled led organisation for Disability Arts in 2013.” Katharine Annear, DATT Project Officer.