David Watson talks to Joe McConnell about Art Disability Culture the magazine formerly known as Disability Arts in London.
What's happening with Art Disability Culture Magazine?
My major concern is to put out as good as magazine as possible. I'm very keen to bring in new writers so that it's not just the 'same old same old' or 'the usual suspects'. I want the magazine to be a lively platform for disabled writers. Not just established ones, but young disabled writers who may not yet have had a chance to get published anywhere else. I'm looking for people with distinctive voices and something interesting to say. But, by the same tokens, if you have a distinctive enough voice but nothing new to say ... I'm always looking for hacks as well.
I'm currently working to consolidate the production of the magazine as for a long time it wasn't appearing regularly. I want it take on a strong life of its own and really become a forum where people air their views. I've been running a lot of opinion pieces as it is one of the few places where people can let fly ...
Is that a call-out for people to let fly?
I was asked whether I would be running a letters page. My response was that I was never not running a letters page but will only do so if I receive interesting letters. Please get in touch with me even if it's just to tell me what a lousy job I'm doing.
The magazine should be a place where people can air a whole range of diverse and possibly conflicting views whether that be through features, articles or letters. So please get in touch.
Tell us about forthcoming Disability Film Festival
The biggest event for London Disability Arts Forum and Disability Art Culture Magazine in early 2008, will be the revived Disability Arts Film Festival now called X'08. We have renamed this as X'08. The festival will be held at BFI Southbank, between February 14 to 19. I am co-directing it alongside Peter Kinkead, London Disability Arts Forum's Business Development Manager. Both of us have a background in film but didn't know that there was a Disability Film Festival in London. So publicity is a top priority and we have made it our job to get the festival back up on its feet and get it out there. X'08 will continue to showcase the work of disabled film makers and this year the spotlight will be on women. This will include work with Raina Haig. We are also passionate about the work of filmmakers with Learning Disabilities and will be running several sessions in collaboration with Oska Bright. Click here for a promo of X’08: London’s 8th International Disability Film Festival!
What excites you on the Disability Arts scene?
Its a constantly changing landscape and it depends on what i've seen in any given week. I recently did a positive review (which is unusual for me) on a performance by Candoco (I know many people say that they are not disablility arts as it is an integrated dance company) and I'm not a fan of dance and recently fell asleep at a performance of the Nutcraker. But Candoco's performance really blew me away.
The last few issues of ADC show that David is a sharp writer not afraid to cast a critical eye in all directions. His reports from last year's Liberty Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe were really original and entertaining.
David is eager to point out that the rename of the magazine formerly known as DAIL (Disability Arts in London) to Art Disability Culture magazine aims, in part, to reflect an emphasis on disability culture beyond a narrower focus on the arts. There will be articles on sports, entertainment, politics and non-art topics coming up in future issues.
Shortly after this interview, London Disability Arts Forum held it's debate at Tate Modern on the motion 'Should disability and Deaf art be dead and buried in the 21st Century?' Although some have pointed out that both sides of the debate seemed to be against the motion, LDAF deserves huge praise for getting such a mainstream institution like Melvyn Bragg to quote Yinka Shonibare, a few days after the debate, describing disability arts as 'The last remaining avant-garde movement' The Guardian, December 11, 2007.