Arts Access Australia – including us all
We have all heard of art therapy and we all know how important it can in rehabilitation settings. What fewer people understand is that the arts – in all their forms – are modes of expression and communication which transcends human lived experience and speak soul to soul. When you understand this, you understand that there is no place for ableism in the arts.
Arts Access Australia is the national peak body for the arts and disability. Their mission is to increase access to the arts for both artists and audiences and they work tirelessly to make this happen.
Arts Access Australia (AAA) is a disability led organisation. The CEO and at least 50% of board members identify as having disability so they know what they are talking about.
The membership of AAA includes arts organisations, disability organisations, and individual artists, arts workers, and other cultural groups across Australia. The focus of the organisation is to provide research, resources, and advocacy across the arts industry. The goal is to advance equality in the arts for people with disability including artists, workers, and audiences alike. No matter where you are in Australia, AAA is working for you.
In May this year the Australia Council for the Arts announced a significant amount of funding awarded to AAA to support the development of a national Disability Access & Inclusion Code of Conduct.
“This funding allows us to undertake the critical step of working with arts and cultural organisations, artists, arts workers and audiences with disability across the country to co-design a national self-regulatory voluntary Code of Conduct for disability inclusivity, accessibility and equity for the Australian arts sector,” CEO Michael Hall said. “By developing the code in this manner, we will create a harmonised and transparent framework with full agency of people with disability.”
Key areas of exploration include reasonable expectations, education and accountability. AAA will also be looking at the easiest way to imbed this new code into current organisational operations to ensure maximum engagement and inclusion.
“This national Code of Conduct is an integral part of AAA’s plans – in collaboration with, and the agency of, the disability community and the arts sector – to strengthen and secure the future of a vibrant, diverse, accessible and equitable Australian arts and cultural sector,” Hall said. “We are very grateful the Australia Council for the Arts recognised the need for Australia’s arts and culture future to include artists, arts workers and audiences with disability, and chose to fund this important project.”
Arts Access Australia is an amazing resource for artists. No matter what your discipline, you will find opportunities at your fingertips on their website.
Head to AAA (and your local state branch) to find out about residencies, competitions and festivals. They also provide news on grants and hold networking events across the year. It is also a great place to discover the amazing work of other artists with disability. It is an absolute treasure trove of ideas, experiences, and opportunities for people with disability.
For people and organisations who want to be more inclusive, AAA is also a great place to find accessibility resources both for engaging with artists and audiences with disability!