Artists with disability have the skills, talent and ambition to compete in the arts industry both here and overseas, but few of us meet this reality. Why?
All of us knows the long unpaid work hours it takes to get our work from the studio to the gallery wall or floor, in the hope to achieve sales. Yes, there are days . . . . many days we think arrh too hard. Add to this a layer of communication disorder or needing to depend on an advocate to negotiate with a gallery. Then you needed to nargivate a team of supports and bring them onto the same page. Your advocate and legal guardian, chances these two people know little about art and even less about working with galleries.
These are the artists I seek to work with . . . But that's not where the access issues begin. #1 access issue is to have these artists valued as artists and their contribution to the arts community recognised by others. This begins with pricing work right? Very wrong. . . This begins with convincing people that artist with disabilities can produce artwork worthy of hanging in public galleries.
. . . Convincing parents, guardians and advocates that these artists should be training at a professional level. The means the artists I work with are selling or intending to sell their artwork. Art for well being and warm fussy is great and truly worthwhile. However that is not what I am on about. Nor do I want to be a tool or participate in tokenism. I do not like selling other people's art at less than the cost it cost me to hang on a gallery wall. As if their time and my time is of no value. This being the case the buyer might as well create the work themselves.
Personally, my support workers are not happy with my own prices. However, I am the one smiling . . . as many of my works do sell. People usually can recognise my work. I value my work, my time and my skills and this is what every artists needs to accomplish in order to be working as a professional artists. How do you ensure this happens when you can speak?
To add insult many of the artists I attempt to work with have to justify the investment in the training, even when its their own money, because they have a guardian.
The # 2 issue is not cost of workshops and classes it is the cost of transport to attend workshop, which is often more than the cost of attending a class. A cry when a parents admits defeat. Its not work the costs. No wonder why their self esteem is low. Their begging for the right to go across town in a cab or a few $100 to travel to Toowoomba buy cab.
Opportunities for the artists I work with will always be limited by the access costs.
# 3 issues is physical access . . . arriving at a building with no wheelchair access, poor lighting and noise.
These are the issues we can easily address with funding. Once we convince people the costs are justify. The world shouldn't be like this.
You can assist me in addressing access issues for these artist by purchasing you Christmas cards through Artisability. All cards cost $2 and were designed by those involve in out programs.