Tag Archives: Disability Arts Cymru

Disability Arts Cymru Poetry Competition 2016

Image from Disability Art Cymru. Image by Michele Brenton

Image from Disability Art Cymru. Image by Michele Brenton

As patron of the excellent Disability Arts Cymru, I’m delighted to publicise their call for submissions for the forthcoming Poetry Competition. What follows is from DAC. Please contact them, at the information below, with any queries and submissions:

Poetry Competition  Disability Arts Cymru – closing date July 31st 2016

       Prize money & Digital publication

  We invite you to submit work that is in response to the theme of Austerity and/or Extravagance
Two Prizes of £50 with digital & online publication
Closing date July 31st

We look forward to receiving your submissions of poetry, spread the word and share this with your friends and colleagues.

Theme of Austerity/Extravagance: In the light of recent governmental decisions, which affect many people throughout Wales, we want to reflect the feelings about this through our poetry by DAC members, many of whom have been affected by austerity measures. Contrary to this we are also asking for work in response to the theme of ‘Extravagance’.
Judges are Dominic Williams and Sian Northey

for the entry criterea you can CLICK HERE

or for more info call: 02920 551 040
or email: kate@dacymru.com

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Disability Access and Inclusion – Surgeries for Arts Organisations in Wales

As patron of Disability Arts Cymru, I’m always happy to publicise and promote the sterling work they do. What follows is information about their surgeries for Arts Organisations in Wales, regarding disability access and inclusion.

Please share with any organisation in Wales who you feel would be interested in this. Please contact Disability Arts Cymru, at the address below regarding this.

Disability Access and Inclusion – Surgeries for Arts Organisations

Disability Arts Cymru is working in partnership with Creu Cymru and Hynt to run a series of surgeries free of charge on disability access and inclusion for arts organisations.

If you are in the process of developing a Diversity Strategy or a Disability Action Plan, the surgeries are for you!

Concerned about access backstage or at your office? Wondering about employing disabled artists? Want to engage better with disabled people?

Bring your queries about practical access, front of house issues, audience development, improving access to performances, workshops, events.

At Disability Arts Cymru we are also interested in developing networks in the arts, so that we can work together to support emerging and established disabled artists. We cover all art forms and work with all disabled people, so we are keen to talk to you too and to look at how we can be more effective together.

Dates and venues:

  • Thursday 9th June – Theatr Mwldan
  • Friday 10th June – Theatr Colwyn
  • Tuesday 14th Wales Millennium Centre
  • Wednesday 15th June – Wales Millennium Centre
  • Thursday 16th June – Pontardawe Arts Centre

Times: You may book a 60 minute surgery between 10.00am and 4.00pm. There is no charge for this service

How to book:

Call Disability Arts Cymru on 029 2055 1040 or email Sara Mackay sara@dacymru.com

If you are not able to make one of the surgery dates but would like to talk to us, we will be happy to arrange another time to meet up with you. Just let us know!

Playing the Euphonium for Little Miss Sociopath’s Pageant, or what Kaite did this week.

I have always secretly loved ‘catch-me-up’ round robins – those annual missives  that coyly condense achievements into two sides of A4, whilst desperately trying not to look smug. I’m afraid this post will resemble that kind of mix and match, for it’s been a remarkable and diverse week, but perhaps not quite in the league  of some of my stateside clan (‘Dorito bagged four hoops this season, whilst Haagen-Daz has embraced the Euphonium as her special skill for the upcoming Little Miss Sociopath Pageant’).

I’m delighted to be awarded a Literature Wales writing bursary, announced late this week. The grant will enable me to dedicate a sustained period to writing fiction. Although known as a dramatist, I’ve published short prose in the past, and am currently revising a first novel.  This award will give me guaranteed ‘fenced off’ time away from whatever it is I do to keep the wolf from the door, to experiment and explore the long prose form. The list of bursary recipients and information on how to apply for future bursaries can be found at: http://www.literaturewales.org/services-for-writers/i/124046/

I’m grateful to Literature Wales for this vote of confidence along with some financial support in these cash-strapped times. I’m used to reading about grants for the arts being slashed, which makes the announcement of twenty-two writers in Wales working through through the medium of English and Cymraeg sharing £81,000 in bursaries for 2014/15 even more cause for celebration. Hurrah. And thank you.

Further celebration this week involved the wonderful Disability Arts Cymru (DAC) and their skills week, where members of their Unusual Stage School have a series of masterclasses and workshops.

Augusto Boal's exercise: making a machine. Photo: Brian Tarr.

Augusto Boal’s exercise: making a machine. Photo: Brian Tarr.

This photo by Brian Tarr shows me apparently conducting the members of USS in one of Augusto Boal’s exercises from the Arsenal of the Theatre of the Oppressed: ‘Machine of Love/Hate’ (‘Games for Actors and Non-Actors’). I was fortunate to have trained with Augusto in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and have used his techniques in applied drama, devising processes, and for conflict resolution across Europe. For the past ten years I’ve been focusing on performance writing whenever I’ve led masterclasses, so it was wonderful to work physically and practically with these beautiful techniques again.

Disability Arts Cymru continue to provide outstanding support, guidance, and training opportunities for actors with physical, sensory, or intellectual impairments. As I said during a lecture at the end of the day, I felt like I had come home – back to Boal’s work, where I started my theatre practice, and to DAC and disability arts and culture.

I’m increasingly concerned about the dilution of expertise and knowledge into catch-all terms such as ‘diversity’. Of course I embrace diversity and promote it in my life and work, but there are particular challenges and prejudices people with impairments face – especially in these difficult days of cuts, the Bedroom Tax and its ilk, criticism of being ‘scroungers’, and the related rise in disability hate crime. An organisation like DAC, who are part of that community and have great understanding, experience, and specialism built up over decades should continue this expertise and not be asked to broaden the scope to a more general ‘diversity’ catchment. I know that this is the way policy is leading, directed from above by politicians, but it seriously worries me that specialist organisations will be weakened this way, and potentially at a time when their clientele will need them most.

The other event this week which I am proud of and certainly will be anything but coy about announcing is my delight and honour to be made DAC’s patron. It is my privilege to be a figurehead for this sterling organisation. I have been part of Disability Arts Cymru for twenty years, and my relationship with Maggie Hampton and Sara Beer goes back to 1986 when we all worked with Graeae Theatre Company, and were part of the Disability Civil Rights Movement. I hope I manage to serve them and the disabled and Deaf people in Wales and beyond, well.

Whilst we are on politics and the fight for civil rights, 陳佾均 Betty, the Taiwanese translator of my performance text ‘The 9 Fridas’ (whom I wrote about in my previous post) has been keeping me informed about the protests for democracy currently occurring in Taiwan. Our discussions began with reference to Frida Kahlo and her political commitment throughout her life – famously appearing in a wheelchair pushed by Diego Rivera, fist defiantly raised, placard in the other hand, less than a week before her death. We were discussing the necessity of finding parallels between the text and contemporary Taiwanese life, and so she broached the issue of the Sunflower Movement.

I was embarrassed and ashamed to tell her I had only the slightest knowledge of this massive civil rights campaign. There has been little coverage on UK radio and TV and after a cursory search I could only find one article in The Guardian online Comment is Free. Betty has sent me a few links, which I reproduce, below. Please look and read, and don’t be as uninformed as I was. Thank you

https://www.facebook.com/sunflowermovement

http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/journalists-obstructed-as-police-use-force-at-taiwan-student-demonstration

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/25/taiwans-protesters-democracy-china-taiwan-strait

20 Questions….. Rachel Gadsden

Continuing this strand of exploring process and creativity with a host of artists working across genres and form, with different practice and results… From novels to choreography, post dramatic texts to sculpture… I ask the same 20 questions to a series of artists, writers and makers, and they respond as they wish, ignoring some questions, enlarging on others, responding to queries about process and creativity. It is my hope over time this will create a fascinating cross-disciplinary archive.

It is my delight and privilege to introduce 20 Questions…. Rachel Gadsden.

Rachel Gadsden at work

Rachel Gadsden at work

Rachel Gadsden is a British visual artist, who has a BA and MA in Fine Art who works across mainstream and disability sectors. Her methodology is expressionistic, energetic, raw, motivated by the frail and human. In 1999 Gadsden exhibited at Dostoyevsky Museum. Wasteland was voted most popular painting in Hunting Competition 2003.  Awards include: Artsadmin Bursary 2004, Dada Visual Artist of the Year 2005, Shrewsbury International Painting Prize 2006, Holton Lee International Disability Arts Prize 2007, Momentum Arts Council/Dada-South Bursary and Dada International Arts Award 2009. Global Alchemy was commended in Freedom To Create 2011: Global Alchemy is now permanently exhibited in Mandela’s Walk To Freedom. Gadsden became the first contemporary artist-in-residence at Hampton Court Palace; and was the first artist for Parliamentary Outreach 2009 – 2010. Recent commissions: painting for the Beijing-London Paralympics Handover at Stoke Mandeville; Gadsden was lead artist for Starting Line, a major collaborative performance for the London 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay Festival. In 2011 Gadsden won an international Unlimited 2012 Cultural Olympiad commission, in collaboration with the Bambanani Group of Khayelitsha Township SA – Unlimited Global Alchemy, and in 2013 she represented UK as part of “Qatar – UK Year of Culture” for British Council and the first ever Art and Disability Festival in the Middle East, HRH Prince Charles and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall formally opened Gadsden’s solo exhibition This Breathing World at Katara Cultural Village, Doha.  Gadsden’s vision continues onwards with a forthcoming new role as Artist for Parliament in the Autumn 2013, a commission for this year’s Liberty Disability Arts Festival for the re opening of the Olympic Park in September, a commission for International Women’s Day in South Africa August 2013 and a collaboration with the Steve Biko Museum in Easter next year to name a few.

What first drew you to your particular practice (art/acting/writing, etc)?

Playing make believe games with my identical twin sister when we were very small children, my imagination was able to expand and developed

 What was your big breakthrough?

Personally: Realizing that if I just allowed my drawings to emerge they would.

Professionally – being selected and appointed to be the first contemporary artist in residence at Hampton Court Palace since the artist Holbein 400 years ago, also to be the first artist to be selected and appointed to be Artist for Parliamentary Outreach.

 What is the most challenging aspect of your work/process?

Juggling the creative process with the never-ending need to fulfill the administration that goes with a hectic artistic practice.

Is there a piece of art, or a book, or a play, which changed you?

Primo Levi ~ If this is a Man (book);  Goya’s Caprichos Drawings and late paintings; Mina Loy’s Poetry. 

What’s more important: form or content?

Always content

How do you know when a project is finished?

The project speaks to me and tells me to stop, I don’t decide.

 Do you read your reviews?

Yes

 What advice would you give a young writer/practitioner?

Work hard, and look outwards as well as inwards and keep feeding your imagination.

What work of art would you most like to own?

Any Goya late work or Ruben’s Massacre of the Innocents and a Rodin sculpture and a Michelangelo late drawing to name a few!

What’s the biggest myth about writing/the creative process?

That an artist or a creative person is somehow gifted.

 What are you working on now?

A performance commission for liberty Festival with Mark Brew called “Cube of Curiosity”; Performance collaboration for South Africa International Women’s Day in Cape Town, August 2013, with Director Mandla Mbowthe, Andille Vellem, Don Coyote called “Talking Souls”, I travel to SA in a week to start rehearsals. A major evolving commission for DadaFest 2014 that includes International Middle East collaboration, plus development for Unity 2014 with Disability Arts Cymru. And also a major fine art commission for UK Parliament Autumn 2013.  

What is the piece of art/novel/collection/ you wish you’d created?

Too many to name really I have a list of thousands of artwork, plays films, poetry that inspire me every day, but any of Michelangelo’s late drawings are probably on the top of the list.

What do you wish you’d known when you were starting out?

That some of the unbelievable opportunities that I have had would emerge.

What’s your greatest ambition?

That the next piece I make will be better than the last and that I live another day to be able to make that happen.

How do you tackle lack of confidence, doubt, or insecurity?

The insecurity I have now is related to my diminishing eye sight issues rather than insecurities relating to what I create, I have witnessed a growing energy and confidence that is over whelming as far as my creative practice is concerned, I just hope I can continue to create. I tackle this all with the very real notion that I have no option other than to keep making everything happen.

What is the worst thing anyone said/wrote about your work?

I rarely focus on the negative and at the moment I can’t think of anything horrid. I am forever humbled by the extraordinary support I have and do receive about my work.

 And the best thing?

“Gadsden is creating an artwork with frantic speed, fighting her own real-life fight against the dying of the light. In the act of painting, she tells us, she is “living in the second”. A profoundly affecting reminder of our shared humanity.”   Luke Jennings – Guardian/Observer

 If you were to create a conceit or metaphor about the creative process, what would it be?

Breathing to stay alive

 What is your philosophy or life motto?

Get on with it; life is short, and so very precious.

What is the single most important thing you’ve learned about the creative life?

It is my life.

 What is the answer to the question I should have – but didn’t – ask?

Desire is everything

  

For further information about Rachel’s work, plus links to websites, films etc, please go to:

www.rachelgadsden.com

www.unlimitedglobalalchemy.com

 Arts Council England Film (5mins) – Rachel Gadsden and her Unlimited Global Alchemy 2012 Cultural Olympiad International Commission

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfkmIUccJJ8

Arts Council England Film (5mins) The Creative Case for Diversity – Rachel Gadsden

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKY4lJYpgZk

 Triumphant Return 3mins approx

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lviKMxAKeU

 

 

Fflam Pwy? Whose Flame is it Anyway?

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Kaite O’Reilly leading a workshop at Disability Arts Cymru’s Skills Week with The Unusual Stage School, Summer 2011. Performer Sherrall Morris is to the right.

Disability Arts Cymru (DAC) have just made a video about their work supported by the Cultural Olympiad: Fflam Pwy? Whose Flame is it Anyway? 

This is a series of initiatives, projects and professional development opportunities for emerging writers, artists and actors, culminating in exhibitions, performances and publications in 2012.

Back in the summer, I was involved with the Skills Week for the Unusual Stage School, leading workshops alongside John McGrath (artistic director of National Theatre Wales), Ian Morgan, and Tara McAllister-Viel, amongst others. The Unusual Stage School was set up by DAC to offer experience and training for disabled and Deaf performers in Wales, where there is a dearth of opportunities in this field.

I am also editing a collection of creative writing by young and emerging disabled and Deaf writers, supported by a series of workshops led by professional writers across Wales. Reflections on writing, revision, and editing will appear, I’m sure, in future blogs.

Meanwhile, to view the video, please go to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH1gzHKhh0Q&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL763C66703E24B3FB