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Colin Hambrook celebrates a JODI commendation for Liz Crow's Bedding Out / 12 November 2013

Bedding Out at Salisbury Arts Centre

Bedding Out at Salisbury Arts Centre

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This years Jodi Awards for equal access to culture for disabled people are soon to be made public. I'm pleased to say that an initial announcement made yesterday revealed that Liz Crow's Bedding Out received a Jodi commendation. 

The pilot for Bedding Out - shown initially at the SPILL Festival of Performance in Ipswich in November 2012 - was a Dao 'Diverse Perspectives' commission, which just goes to show what far-reaching results can be achieved from a relatively modest investment of £1500. Nominated for accessibility and planning, user involvement; innovation; legacy and impact, Bedding Out was a performance about UK benefits system changes and their impact on disabled people's lives.

Liz Crow's 48 hour ‘bed-life’ performance in Salisbury Arts Centre was livestreamed, reaching 10,000 participants in over 50 countries, using twitter to facilitate a conversation controlled by disabled people. The artists' presence in a bed positioned in the altar of the reconditioned church that is Salisbury Arts Centre conveyed, in my mind, an image mirroring an appeal for asylum. In allowing the voices of disabled people to come to the fore, there was a sense of gentle revolution unfolding at #beddingout

Congratulations also go this week to Anne Pridmore, Gabriel Pepper, Stuart Bracking, Paris L'Amour, and John Aspinall for their successful legal challenge against the high court decision made last April to close the Independent Living Fund. Closed to new applicants since June 2010, the battle is yet to be won on re-opening the fund for all disabled people and putting an end to the two-tier system of support that is currently in place. Whilst the public perception is that disabled people are being supported into work by the current government, the grim reality couldn't be further removed from the broadcasts being propogated in the media through programmes such as BBC's Britain on the Fiddle.

As long as we can survive Dao has a duty to challenge those perceptions and fight for equality in the Arts. We know it's a tall order. We continue to bang our heads against brick walls and in recent years it has felt like the moves forward have been far outweighed by the moves backwards with the closure of so many of our Arts organisations. 

Which brings me to 'What Next?' - a new movement seeking to enhance the national conversation about the value of arts and culture. Chaired by David Lan, Artistic Director at the Young Vic, What Next? hopes to facilitate "productive alliances and collaboration in public engagement and advocacy." 

At a time when we see the Arts being devalued with the introduction of a baccalaureate qualification which will see arts subjects banished from our schools, I wonder what happened to all those empty promises to support Britain's creative economy released in the pre-election Arts Policy documents produced by both the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems.

We need to find constructive ways to challenge and to determine the role the Arts play in our lives. As dispiriting as it is having to continue to fight for accessibility (what accessibility you might argue?) the reality is that things will get a lot worse if we don't pull our heads out of the sand and seek creative partnerships with organisations and individuals who share similar values. 

And for those reasons Trish and I are planning to go to the Diversity ‘Long Table’ being hosted by What Next? at Sadler's Wells on 27 November. They calling on all venues, organisations, artists, creative practitioners, leaders, thinkers, across generations, art forms and sectors, to attend. If you can make it, please let us know?




17 November 2013

Thank you Colin and Trish for taking this on, for making time to be be part of this initiative.

I think the best (only?) contribution I can make is to enage with DAO, to visit and participate as much as I can.

DAO has been, and still is, an opportunity for me to find, make contact with, and give expression to the artist that lurks somewhere inside me, deep down.

Does this make sense? (Does anything?)

To the extent that art represents freedom, I suppose artists, merely by practicing their art or craft, will always challenge repressive governments and other forces that seek to control and exploit the people.

I guess...

Little Cog - Vici Wreford-Sinnott

12 November 2013

Hi Colin and Trish - just to let you know I'm planning to come to the event on 27 November at Sadlers Wells.

Huge congratulations to Liz Crow who is an amazing artist and activist - her 'In Actual Fact' ( is a brilliant ongoing challenge to the press propaganda and hate about disabled people. It's fascinating to see how all of our labels are shifting as the dominant ideology of successive governments shift - we're anarchists, then we're activists, then we're artists and unless we're 'mainstreamed', apparently we're now extremists. I remember being called an extremist, when I was director of Arcadea in the North East, by the CEO of a national landmark venue, for addressing the language his organisation used when talking about disabled people and working with disabled people. Apparently i represented the views of an extreme minority. I recognise the headbanging and brick walls vividly - frankly it wore me down and burned me out, but that's what its designed to do. I'm refreshed and revived and ready to adopt my own label with pride. Very keen to work in national unity with disabled artists and organisations and other partners across the country.