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Jim Rohan, Shane Byrne and Belinda Henzey, Equinox Theatre Co pictured with Pádraig Naughton and Louise Bruton at the launch of ADI's strategic plan

Leading Change in Arts and Culture

Posted: 12 December, 2017

Championing the creativity of artists with disabilities and promoting inclusive experiences for audiences with disabilities lies at the heart of Arts & Disability Ireland’s work.

‘Leading Change in Arts and Culture has had a long development. The ADI staff team started working with consultant Maureen Gilbert in Spring 2016 on a series of facilitated sessions to review the outcomes of our last strategy Becoming a National Resource, published in 2011, and began the process of shaping this new strategy, Leading Change in Arts and Culture. Maureen also undertook a facilitated consultation with over 50 stakeholders from across the arts, as well as an open-call online consultation. If you were one of those people who shared your feedback, a big thank you, it was very much appreciated.

We started incorporating many aspects of Leading Change in Arts and Culture into our annual programme of activities in 2017. So, you could say that ADI’s new strategy has been road tested over the last few months and is therefore already a living document that will shape our future development over the next five years.

Championing the creativity of artists with disabilities and promoting inclusive experiences for audiences with disabilities will remain at the heart of ADI’s work. We will continue to use every opportunity to make this happen, in partnership with the arts sector, people with disabilities, and the wider communities in which they live. We believe passionately that every person can experience, enjoy and contribute to the full range of artistic life in Ireland and beyond.

In producing this strategic plan, ADI has been realistic about what our small team can do with the funding and resources available to us. Being strategic sometimes involves making hard choices about what is – and is not – our work. We may need to ‘do less, better’ in some areas, and to pass on our expertise so that others can provide what we have done until now. We want to make space to develop new, strategically potent work that can move us decisively towards our vision.

Leading Change in Arts and Culture focuses on three strategic areas: artists, audiences, and the arts and cultural environment. While it’s not practical to go through all of ADI’s plans up to 2021, here’s a snapshot of what we are planning:

For artists, ADI will continue to use Arts and Disability Connect, the funding scheme that we manage on behalf of the Arts Council, as the primary springboard for training, mentoring and new work opportunities for artists with disabilities. Over the last 4 years managing the scheme we have identified the need for a separate production award. Subject to funding, this is something we are hoping to pilot with Cork Midsummer Festival and Project Arts Centre in 2018-19. Looking further ahead to 2021 we intend to partner with The Ark to develop an open call commissioning process for artists with disabilities to create new work for children, young people and their families. Additionally, over the coming 5 years we will develop an arts and disability showcasing platform with selected multi-disciplinary venues and festivals in Ireland. This already started in 2017 with the presentation of Ailís Ní Ríain’s ‘I Used To Feel’ at Cork Midsummer Festival and Laura de Búrca’s work as part of the group show ‘Golden Record’ at Galway Arts Centre during the Galway International Arts Festival.

For audiences, we will develop and foster local and regional access partnerships, comprising of a combination of multi-disciplinary arts venues, theatres, galleries, museums and festivals which, with our support, can realise an accessible arts infrastructure and shared accessible programme in their locality or region. The first of these access partnerships will begin in Dublin and Galway in 2018 and will be rolled out to other parts of the country in the proceeding years. In 2020 ADI will host an international conference facilitating a peer to peer exchange with a range of arts and cultural access professionals and advocates from Ireland and abroad. The conference will draw on our longstanding relationship with the annual LEAD Conference organised by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington DC, who have made a commitment of $100,000 in their 2020 budget towards realising the first LEAD Conference outside the United States.

While Becoming a National Resource was in many respects an aspirational document, Leading Change in Arts and Culture is firmly grounded in providing evidence for our future directions and championing their impact. To this end, in 2017 ADI has initiated three pieces of research: a legal appraisal of the relevancy of current Equality and Human Rights legislation as it relates to the arts and audiences with disabilities and an analysis of ADI’s provision of access for performances and exhibitions over the last decade. This analysis will track the development, rise, plateauing and in some instances decline of services in venues and galleries across Ireland.

To coincide with the launch of Leading Change in Arts and Culture, ADI invited journalist and blogger Louise Bruton to present a disability activist’s response to our third and most recently completed piece of research the Going Out survey which set out to understand how people with disabilities engage with arts and culture in Ireland. This research and the final report titled Audiences in Waiting was conducted by arts and marketing consultant Heather Maitland who is best known to the Irish performing arts sector for her annual bench-marking survey of their box office data. Heather was assisted by Leah Johnston, ADI’s Project Manager along with 20 disability organisations who helped to promote the survey.

The Arts Council as our principle funder, alongside 105 partner organisations are listed in Leading Change in Arts Culture for their support of ADI over the last five years, so on behalf of the Board and staff, a big thank you to each and every one of you.’

– Pádraig Naughton, speaking at the launch of Leading Change in Arts and Culture, Thursday, 30th November at Project Arts Centre in Dublin.

Click here to read the full strategic plan, Leading Change in Arts and Culture

Pádraig Naughton speaking at the launch of Leading Change in Arts and Culture at the Project Arts Centre on 30th November 2017. 
Audio description, induction loop, speech 2 text and ISL interpretation were provided at the launch. Pictured is Ali Stewart, ISL interpreter.

Arts & Disability Ireland aims to scale up its impact, in partnership with others, to achieve transformational change across the arts sector.

Pádraig Naughton, Executive Director, ADI

Tags: Launch, Leading Change in Arts and Culture, Pádraig Naughton, Project Arts Centre, Strategic Plan, Strategy

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