Wednesday, April 18, 2018

ndis support for visual arts

Are you an artist living with disability?

What would it take to live your best life?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme known as the ndis assists people with disabilities and their families to live their best life. If you are between 0 and 65; have a life long disability and needs assistance with daily living tasks; mobility equipment or assisted technology you maybe eligibility for assistance from the ndis. You can check your eligibly on the ndis website. The key goal of the ndis is to assist people living with disability and their families to participate in the community.  For a family with one or more children with disabilities that might mean some assistance with respite care; or vacation care; mobility equipment and some support from therapists. 

For adults with disability the ndis should allow you to participate in a number of areas of community life or even travel.  However the ndis will only pay for assistance relating you your disability. They will not pay for art supplies; classes; retreats; travel costs or gallery hire.  These are costs shared by all professional artists, the ndis will assist with additional costs due to your disability.  If you paint with your month the ndia might paint for modify paint brushes and easels; as well as you day to day support needs.  These are referred to as reasonable and necessary supports. 

This might include assistance with daily living activities; mobility equipment, social support and developing daily living skills. You can find a full list of types of supports on the ndis website. The ndis will continued to rolled out over the next two years and the expected start up date in your area can be found on the ndis website. 

Regardless of where you live in Australia you can begin you pre-ndis planning now. To date we see those participants who pre-plan are most satifty with their approved plans. Your ndis plan is based on the goals you tell the ndis you what to achieve. Your first plan will last for 12 months and then you can determine the length of your plan after that. ndis is about your life (the participant); the activities you want to engage in and who you want to assist you.

Pre-planning is not about the programs you want to access; the services you want to use or who you want to be on your support team. Although many participants are experiencing difficulties in exploring their ndis pathways, this is where having a basic idea on the types of supports and the services you want to access could be helpful. Selection of supplies and services occurs once your ndis plan is approved.  

Pre planning

Pre-planning should involve mapping your current informal and formal supports. If you have never received support before all your current supports are informal.  These supports may include family members; friends or school mates, people you don't pay to help you!

In developing your ndis plan you want to determine where the gaps in your supports currently are and what other supports need to be in place. Under the ndis the lists of types of support is expanded.  It includes everything that was available - e,g, personal care, community access, respite care, day centres, social activities; independent living; and behavioural management.  However things like house modifications; mobility equipment; communication devices; early intervention programs and physiotherapy are now included.

So remember the question at the start of the post?  What support or assistance do you require to live your best life and what do you imagine your best life to look like?

Going for gold!

Most likely until now someone in has determined what you need to live a reasonable life.  Many people found this did not allow them to achieve their hopes and dreams.  The day your child was born you had hopes and dreams for them . . . Can you remember what they were?

Education? A job? Marriage and grandchildren? Buying a home? Or travelling the world?  Being born with disability or acquiring a disability should not automatically discount any of these choices. However other things like where you live; access to education, resources and early intervention programs; access to treatments and therapies, and natural abilities. Once even learning and intellectual disabilities were seen as barriers to education, we bow know what is needed are different learning patterns and thus by addressing these access issues people with learning and intellectual disabilities are attending university.  If a child can learn to walk then the are able to learn.  It is not a persons impairments that disables them but the structure of society.

the role of the ndis and your plan is to address these access issues.  Assuming you can create artwork we are now going to explore potential access issues to your life as an artist.  Art is many different things to different people in this post I'll let you decide if your creating art or otherwise.

The more important questions are why do you create art and what processes does that involve? So whether you draw, paint, make prints, work with clay or textiles or anything you intend to display or sell as art these are some tips to establishing your plan and supports to enable you to achieve your art goals. 

When I look at planning, writing goals or activities I chose to engage in I look at goal areas.  Art is only one aspect of your life, your ndis plan covers all areas of your life. Art may form the major part of your ndis plan or you may just want 5 hours support a week to do art at home.  Every artists is at different stages in their development in setting ndis goals around your art you will want to ensure this provides the level of support you need.

In a ndis planning meeting your planner with look at accommodation, education, training, daily living skills, employment, volunteering, sports and recreation, heath and welling being and social needs. No where is there an art box to tick. This is why the term 'visual art' needs to appear in the wording of one or more of your goals. 

In my first ndis plan my goal was to extend my visual arts practise. Last week I received a highly commended in the Ipswich Art Awards, In the art world I might be known as an emerging artists. So in terms of your art development you might class yourself as a beginner, an emerging artists, established artists or a mid-career artists.  If you are a established artists, being funded as a beginner to attend a few workshops and maybe an art group. Is not going to get your next solo art exhibition on the gallery wall.

So step 1 is what is your goal? Step 2 is what activities you undertake to achieve your goal and step 3 is what support you need to achieve your goal. In my second plan because I have had a recent solo exhibition and now won a award for my artwork, my new goal is to work towards a solo exhibition outside the Ipswich region, to do this I will need to write some submissions or expression of interest for art galleries.  I also enter competitions where the prize is gallery space.  So this is my activity plan, I need support to source art supplies, product artwork, document my work (portfolio that involves taking photos); marketing and social media; gallery submissions; transporting my work and public appearances.

You need to capture what activities are involve in your art production when you word your goals.  The activity statement will probably not make it into you plan.  However if you are working as a practicing artists and engaging with other artists you may also want to develop a activity statement or business development plan as part of your art practise. 

It is best to assume you planner knows nothing about art; the process of producing art; or how to get your work seen.  Telling your planner you are an emerging artist who sell your artwork and where you have exhibited may mean nothing.  Nationally visual artists with disability are being under support due to planners not understand what their daily activity look like. 

Tip one: Take photos of your artwork!

"This is me in front of my art display at a local coffee shop. I made $93 dollars from items on display. Later 3 pieces sold for an average $290.00. My next solo exhibition is in February 2018."

This still doesn't capture process involve or it tells me is your able to produce art at gallery level to sell.  You may need to develop an activity sheet or statement. 

Activity Statement

On Mondays and Thursdays  9am to 3 pm my support worker assist me in my art studio.

On Saturdays when I do my shopping I collect any art supplies or equipment I need this averages 1 hour per week. In the afternoon I attend workshops run by different members of my art group between 1 pm and 4 pm.

I visit the art gallery in Brisbane and GOMA once a month for inspiration and openings of other artists in my art group about every second Friday night to do this I need support from 5 pm to 10 pm.

My art group have an exhibition in the Ipswich Community Gallery in August and I hope to have 2 artworks in the exhibition.  I also am working on artwork to enter into 3 competitions.  For this I will need 2 hours per week support to transport work to and from the framer and then to the exhibition site, Each exhibition has a opening night which artists are expected to attend. 

Your activity statement starts to give you planner a insight into the time and commitment you put into your art and how many hours you will need support.  Your not working 9am to 5 pm, so you need to demonstrate you are working and or studying part-time or full-time.

So to write a goal such as: 'My goal is to sell my art' isn't a great goal for the ndis. A better goal might be: "To grow my art practise by contributing to my art groups end of year exhibition; develop new skills by attending workshops through my art group and work towards my first solo art exhibition." This should ensure better support for your art practise. 

So your ndis goal # 1 is:-

As an emerging artists in the region my goal is to extend my visual art practise, through the development of skills; exhibiting and production of artwork for my first solo art exhibition.

The steps or activity you undertake are:-
  • Developing skills through community classes and workshops.
  • Participating in a local at group.
  • Producing artwork for the art groups end of year exhibition and my first solo exhibition.
In pre-planning it could be helpful to map out what activities based on a average week. This could help to determine the support you need. 

You also need to decide 'how you want to be supported?'

  • is it 'one on one support'
  • is it in a group of artists with disabilities
  • is it to work in a studio or home studio
  • do you need support with transport
All these things will determine the amount of support the ndis will provide.

Tip 2: chart your art activities to show your planner

Defining supports you may be able to access.

Dingle Dell is an inclusive art space in Ipswich
Owned by ALARA Queensland 
A disability support services.

ALARA runs a number of arts program and
Dingle Dell enables participants and
other community members to sell their work.

Centre based activities

Some support services have decaticed art programs.  These provide group support to enable participants to produce artwork.

Community based support group or individual

Community access support could include support to attend classes in the community, visit art galleries; workshops; festivals; and source are supplies.

One on one support might allow you to work in an open studio or your own studio space.

An open studio is where you share studio space with a number of other artists and thus costs involved in running a studio. Many open studios allow the public to come and watch the artists at work. In the Ipswich region Golbery's Basement is an example of an open studio.  You may need support to get to and from the studio and to work in the studio itself. 

Supported Studios

Are disability support services that exists solely to support visual artists to produce, market and sell their artwork. Supported studios in the Brisbane area are Arts From the Margins and Brisbane Outersiders Studio - supported by Access Artists in Queensland.  You can find out more about the role of Support Studios here.

Tip 3:  To enable your planner to understand the process you take to produce your art, you could take a video. 

However not everyone wants to sell their artwork. Your goal may be to meet other people who enjoy arts and craft or beginning to explore the world of visual arts.  For these participants attending a arts program offered by a support service might meet thet needs, or you might want community access support to engage in a community arts or craft group.

ndis goal:

To  interact with other people who enjoy art and craft like me and to have fun!


To attend a center base program which has a focus on arts but also offers social activities to make new friends. 

Under the ndis art therapy and art 4 well being is another way you can asked to be supported.  It is well documented that art is good for the soul and beneficial in aiding those with sensory and behaviour disabilities.

The last element of your ndis plan is how you chose to have your ndis package managed.  The options are:-

  1. Have the ndia manage you funding.
  2. Use a host funds provider.
  3. Self manage through a Plan Manager.
  4. Do it all your self.
  5. Or a combination of 2 to 4.

When it comes to plan managing their are many very options. I have recently begun self-directing through engaging my own support staff.  This has allowed me to employ staff who appreciate art and thus more respectful of how I utilise my time and artwork. 

Tip # 4

Talk to other artists with a disability who are or will be partisipants of the ndis.  It also may be worth talking to Access Arts or current providers. 

Each style of administration has its advantages and disadvantages and their is information on the different possibilities on the ndis website. Regardless of which way you chose to have your package manage the ndis will cover those administration fees.  The more you chose to self-manage or self-direct the more legal and financial responsibilities you will have. 

If you are thinking of self-managing it would be good to talk to others who self-manage and find different models.  In the last 12 months I have gradually increased the role I play in managing my funding.   Budgets and understanding insurance are not my strong points, but the more I do, the great my understanding becomes.  The ndis also provides compasity funding so you can build your skills in this area and overtime you might be able to do more in the management of your package.

Tip # 5 - Research different management options, how you want your package to be administered is one thing that needs to be tied down in your ndis goals. 

In my secound ndis plan my main goal is to build my self-directed team.  I have engaged a team leader with the skills to assist me in self-directing, that person handles the roster, timesheets, and ndis reporting on my behalf.  So self-managing no matter what model you chose doesn't mean your on your own.

What is not part of your ndis plan?

  • Your disability or how it limits you! Your plan is about how to support you to live your best life!
  • The name of the support providers; plan managers or suppliers you want to access.
  • The number of contact support hours you can purchases.

  • How to use you core supports. Supports such as one-on-one; community access; in-home supports; social groups or centre based are now interchangeable. 

Remember art is only one area of your life and you will have support needs that do not involve art.  One of my other goals is to improve my health and wellbeing.  I do this through working with a physio theraphist. The ndis funds all reasonable and necessary supports such as personal care, in-home assitance, community access, equipment and theraphies. It is reasonable that you might go to the gym or night clubbing and be supported to enjoy these activities. 

It is important youe ndis plan captures all you want life to hold. Whether this be education and training; accomondation and lifestyle support, employment, improving independence; and sports and recreation.  ndis is here to empower you to live the life you and your family want.

The Business of Making Art

If you are a practising artists - engaging in the arts community; producing art, entering competitions and/or selling your work you are effectively self-employed. Whether you're making any money is a different issue. Thus to some extent you are managing an art practise.  This combined with knowing what support you need to produce your art, means you already have some skills to enable you to self-manage and/or sell direct.  So stop selling yourself short!

Doing it my way!

In 2016 I attended a conference, My Art, My Way!  This is important because there is no right way to do art, to set up your art practise or to put together your ndis plan. 

The plan is about the participant building their goals and supports to support the life they want to lead.  I am a multi-media artists and work across a number of art forms in my own studio.  You might only work with oil paints and work in a studio with others.  I exhibit my work and one of my goals is to exhibit outside my home town.  You might be a digital artists and aim to sell your images online via accessing a file for payment. 

Speaking Up!

If you are one of the artist who we believe have been under funded due to ndis staff not understanding your daily activities, do not rob yourself on needed support as a practising artist.

  • You have a right to appeal and seek a review of a plan that is not working for you. 
  • You have the right for a support person and/or access a disability advocate service.
  • You have a right to ask for things to be carifity so you can give additional information that may straighten your request for a review.
  • You have a right to make a complaint about unfair decision making.

I recommend you chose a support person who knows you and your art practise.  If you are a practising artists you need to be clean what that means.  You're not doing this as a hobby, for enjoyment or general well being, this is how you are employed and potently make an income.

Your activity statement needs to spell out how you produce your art; how you market yourself as an artist; what are the outcomes of your art practise. If you did not do this in you initial planning meeting, have someone who understands artistic practises write and activity statement with you and take photos and videos to support this statement. 

If you need assistance with writing an activity statement talk to a support coordinator, another artists or the state body who advises on arts access needs. In Queensland this is Access Arts.  Arts Access Australia and the Support Art Studios are aware of this emerging issue and seeking to work with the ndia to address it. A list of state representatives (in Queensland that is myself) and Studios on the Supported Studio Network.

If your working in the studio three days a week, you need to ensure that you are funded for that support and pre-planning and providing documentation of your arts practice is the best tool we have to date,
I am sure I not explored every options when it comes to creativity, art or points of sales.  However the point is the you as a ndis participant are the designer of your art practise and ndis package. So go grab every opportunity! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi I am looking for an Arts program for my daughter Montana who is 16 years old we have funding for this from NDIS I just need to find something in our area we live in Ringwood vic