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Trish Wheatley attends the opening of the People Like You exhibition at Salisbury Arts Centre / 8 March 2013

photo of a group of soft sculptures of figures

Photo of Gini's artwork in the gallery space at Salisbury Arts Centre

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In his book Future Perfect, Steve Johnson makes the observation that "as a news hook, steady incremental progress pales beside the sexier stories of dramatic breakthrough and spectacular failure".

Here on DAO I believe we buck that trend. Whilst we plotted the highlights of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad we also, through our smaller news stories and ongoing blogs, aimed to cover those  incremental but no less significant steps in the arts world from a disability perspective.

This year, we follow the progress of our own Diverse Perspectives commissions, our regular bloggers and other disabled artists without the huge backdrop of 2012. Life goes on and we (and by that I mean the disability arts community) are still striving forward, furthering the debate and increasing the profile of artists in the UK and beyond.

Today, quite appropriately, is International Women's Day and we see the opening of People Like You, the exhibition at Salisbury Arts Centre in which DAO is a main delivery partner. Led by LinkUpArts, it features three incredibly talented female disabled artists, Gini, Sue Austin and Liz Crow. It has been a privilege to work on the exhibition, it's catalogue and the accompanying symposium 'From the Personal to the Universal' which takes place on 10 April.

Steve Johnson talks about peer progressive networks as a means to communicate and progress as a society and I think Disability Arts historically is a great example of that. He says "Most new movements start this way: hundreds or thousands of individuals and groups, working in different fields and different locations, start thinking about change using a common language, without necessarily recognising those shared values . You just start following your own vector, propelled along by the people in your immediate vicinity. And then one day you look up and realise that all those individual trajectories have turned into a wave."

Now the first wave is well and truly over but there is a new struggle, a new fight and with that the possibility of renewed unity, whilst valuing the nuances within disability arts and diversity more generally and opening it to a wider audience.

People Like You offers a great opportunity to talk this through, open up the debate and DAO is right at its heart. We hope you are able to join in, whether that is in person or online, to be part of another incremental step that otherwise might go unrecognised and perhaps be involved a new wave in the disability arts movement.

People Like You is on show at Salisbury Arts Centre until 14 April. For details got to DAOs listings pages at


richard downes

10 March 2013

good to have you and other DAO'ers in the struggle