Welcome to On Whose Shoulders We Build which is the website for the North East Disability Arts Living Archive. This archive is a tribute to all those who have, and still do, contribute to the rich culture of disability arts in the North East of England. This is stage one of the archive and is largely drawn from the recorded works of Black Robin in consultation with disabled artists from the region. The archive will reflect many of the people, groups and key events both past and present. Disability Arts remains a vibrant arts scene, with individual artists and groups creating amazing change today.
The archive will develop over time and we will continue to add people and events. It’s not fully representative of everything as that information just isn’t held anywhere yet and so this is a beginning. No-one and no group is deliberately left out and you can get in touch if there is anything you would like to suggest is added.
About On Whose Shoulders
There is so much history of disability arts activity in the North East but much of it remains hidden. Black Robin has an extensive collection of filmed and photographed work by disabled artists and didn’t think it should go dusty on the shelf, and wanted to pay tribute to all those who have made a difference to the lives of disabled people through the arts in our region. He has begun to archive it and share an initial narrative of the community’s history, along with key figures from the movement. From a dynamic community of creative people it’s essential that we preserve the heritage and also promote the disabled artists and activists creating amazing change today.
What is Disability Arts?
Disability Art is art in any artform made by disabled people about the experience of disability. The Disability Arts Movement in the UK developed alongside and out of the Disability Rights Movement in the 1970s and 80s. The Movement has changed and evolved over the last five decades, moving from individual artists and small groups to a set of regional disability arts fora and a National Disability Arts Forum, all of whom were independent of each other but forged several alliances, hosting regional and national events, support for disabled artists and campaigning for equality in art and culture, through to a changed world today. The Disability Arts Movement was affected by gradual changes in funding for the regional fora in the 2000s, with only DADA in Liverpool, DASH (Disability Arts Shropshire) and Shape London remaining. The debate around what kind of work comes under the disability arts umbrella has shifted considerably since then. These days there are lots of references to disabled-led art, in which all the lead creatives are disabled people, and where the subject matter is largely about disability as a social phenomenon but not exclusively. Not all art made by disabled people is about disability, but many of the same access barriers are there for all disabled artists. The campaign for equality is still very much needed to create equality of opportunity but also equal and relevant representation of disability identity and culture in the arts.
If you have anything to add to the archive you can contact Black Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org