Friday, August 3, 2018

Growing Your Visual Arts Pratice and the ndis

The ndis is designed to grow the participation rates of individuals and families living with disability in the community in which they live.  This is achieved through a individualised plan where participants choose their own goals to work towards.  For some participants a goal may seem small, like learning to feed themselves independently, while others might set themselves the goal to move out of the family home.  My ndis goals are around maintaining my independence, becoming confident in self-directing my own supports, building my visual arts practice and working towards a more inclusive arts community.

`Meet The Artist'
At Aspire Gallery in Paddington
Did I mention I am one of the artists people came to meet.

This year as part of growing my art practice I  am hoping to find a gallery to house a solo art exhibition in Brisbane.  I  have had three solo exhibitions in Ipswich and have been part of Aspire Group Exhibitions for the last year.  Sometimes my work sells.  In the last exhibition I sold two pieces. 

With my ndis plan I access two types of support: these are in-home support and community access support. The ndis funds supports that are 'reasonable and necessary' to enable participants to achieve their goals.  My in-home support enables me to live independently, do my physio program and enjoy my garden.  In summer I use my garden as a salad bowl.  My support workers assist with housework, grooming, gardening, house maintenance and my exercise program. My health and well being is about not becoming dependent on others as I age. 

My community access hours are about achieving my goals to build my art practice and enhancing my lifestyle through a physio program.  This week my one on one community support has been used to grow my art practice.  I have a small stand of handmade products in Ipswich ArtTime Supplies. This week I changed over my stock. Well, I had sinus issues so my support worker did it, but I prepared the work.

In terms of the Ipswich art community artists are busy preparing for FUSED. A festival that focuses on the arts.  Music, performance, poetry, dance and visual art.  The visual art groups have two main competitions this year, "Decked Out" and "Faces" and we will be joined by the students of Arts Alive, School of Arts to present our work in the Ipswich Community Art Gallery. 

However, my art practice is about more than creating art to decorate peoples homes, offices and public buildings.  My art is about creating a 'space' where everybody belongs.  Sometimes people living with disabilities and mental illness do not feel like they belong.  It takes more effort to get out of bed in the morning to attend day programs, school or show up to the office.  Much of the Ipswich CBD is inaccessible due to the conditions of footpath, lack of access to buildings and social acceptance.  This inaccessibility has nothing to do with the quality of work we can put up on a wall.

On the 25th of August this month 'Hearing Our Voices' opens.  This exhibition allows Ipswich artists with disability to tell their stories. All art regardless of the subject matter or medium tells a story. For this exhibition the story is told through the eyes that look at the world through the barriers it has created.  Just finding accessible space to exhibit our work is challenging, then we need to deliver it to the gallery.

Next week I will be preparing a submission to take part in Metro Arts 2019 program.  I am applying for their new social engagement program.  My aim is to engage my audience in a conversation around 'difference' and becoming more socially inclusive. We want a society where everyone in the community has a voice, even when they may be physically unable to speak.  A very interesting prospect when currently I can't safely access the gallery, but 'The lift is coming'!

So, next week I hope to meet with the art director to discuss my proposal, this means getting my portfolio together and taking it down to Brisbane and getting into a gallery that has stairs.  These are the challenges artists with disabilities need to overcome. It should not be about questioning the standard of work we can produce though it is still a common assumption that we cannot compete.  My readers know otherwise. 

My Highly Commended 
in the 2018 QT Art Awards.

Two groups in the community that are misunderstood; artists and people living with disability. My ndis plan is allowing me to grow my art practice and extend my audience, however this is not the case for all artists living with disabilities, especially those working in supported art studios.  The ndis shifts the funding of supports away from traditional support providers to individual participants.  Sadly the ndis does not always recognise the what artists with disability contribute to the community and thus they are not funded as being in full time employment. The arts in Australia is not recognised for its contribution.  Thus visual art is seen as a pastime, hobby or resourceful as a means for well being, and it is all those things.  It is how I found my calling, but creating art can be so much more, through my art and my work in the art community I want to communicate a dialogue, not sit in a art group at a day centre. 

The ndia needs to recognise some people are engaged in the arts as employment. This allows them to tell stories as only they can tell them.  Education around disability awareness needs to come from those who best understand the social barriers that need to be addressed. 

But I'll leave you on a different note.  I know thanks to the ndis my art practice has grown this week and I explore new opportunities and take up new challenges in my art practice. 

A commissioned piece

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