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Aidan Moesby reflects on the 'Dear John' letter. It doesn't get any easier to hear! / 17 January 2011

I don’t know about you but I quite like having a bit of autonomy when it comes to my own life. Not that I’m a control freak or anything – far from it. I like the fact that the world just happens and presents a variety of experiences for me to respond to at times. I see my new psychiatrist tomorrow. Now this is a case in point – my previous psych. was nu-skool "I am the expert in my own condition" – we make decisions together, I have a degree of autonomy in the things that affect my life. Great!

Where am I going with all this. Well tomorrow I will say to my new psych. that I take rejections personally. That they have a profound affect upon my mental health. The method of rejection also has an effect. The rub is this. As an artist you are constantly putting yourself on the line, constantly putting yourself in the ‘Palinesque’ sights of rejection. Constantly applying and proposing.

In fact at times, applying and proposing – be it for commissions, workshops, funding or even benefits – can be a full time job. Unless you are very fortunate, rejection is all part and parcel of being an artist. He may suggest medication, he may tell me to \'Deal with it\' or \'do something different\'. I’m still trying to deal with it – maybe some CBT will help.

I remember back in the good old days when people used to write proper letters to each other. In the case of applications you got a letter back. You could pretty much tell if it was an offer or interview or rejection. (I remember returning to love letters, I remember too the Dear John – at least they thought enough to write. The modern world is so throw away and often devoid of true meaning – dumped by text – callous!) You had some time to compose yourself before opening. These days it’s a line in the from-subject box and a two or three line standard reply of rejection. This is invariably followed by something about there being too many applicants to provide any feedback.

Like many of you out there, I proposed an idea to the Unlimited strand of the Cultural Olympiad. Like many I was disappointed. They suggested we apply for a GFA from the Arts Council. I like to think, and rather naively I am learning the hard way, that the disability and the disability arts world is somehow softer and more considerate to those within it because it sure is a brutal world out there in the wider diaspora. So other than the fact that I don’t even know who sits on the Unlimited panel, I am finding it near impossible to discover this. And I like to think I have good research and internet skills. That hardly constitutes feedback, nor is it particularly helpful.

So as I compose another GFA, I am left wondering who got the money, was it new work or reworked, was it money for old rope, jobs for the boys and girls, a larger Tsunami of cash heading South? I hold onto my idealism of inclusion not cliques, meritocracy not favours, transparency not dodgy deals in the smoky back rooms. Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

You can see more of my work at


Keywords: visual arts,