Arts Council England
Bristol conference leads national change in perception of learning disabled artists
The second in a trio of national conferences encouraging debate around learning disabled arts practice takes place in Bristol on 14 October. Creative Minds is led by learning disabled artists and performers and aims to challenge perceptions of their work.
The Bristol event is supported with an award of £15,000 from our National Lottery funded Grants for the arts scheme and is organised by a committee of learning disabled artists from Bristol and Somerset. It is aimed at people with a learning disability living in the south west, organisations working with them, educators, funders, critics, curators and venue programmers. A day of talks, performances and discussion will explore best practice and what is meant by quality in learning disability led art forms.
The first of the conferences took place in Brighton earlier this year and a further event will be held in the East region in March 2015. The conferences form part of a national movement which seeks to bring an end to the labelling of art created by learning disabled people as 'good therapy' and stimulate discussion about how its quality can be defined instead.
The idea for the movement came because as individual artists and performers the committee feel they have not had their work taken seriously when they have shown it in theatres, galleries and on stage.
Creative Minds is supported by a number of local companies, including Openstorytellers, Misfits Theatre, JUMPcuts and Bristol Old Vic Associates - Firebird Theatre.
Bristol Old Vic Executive Director, Emma Stenning, said: 'We are proud to have supported Firebird Theatre for almost a quarter of a century and as one of our Associate Artists since 2012. They embody the spirit and a way of working which should be a lesson to every company we work with.
'This conference and the ongoing debate is an important one not only for Bristol's thriving cultural scene but also for the national arts sector. But the true pioneers are companies like Firebird who stand at the forefront of addressing social and industry attitudes with passion, humour and fierce creativity.'
Creative Minds supports Arts Council England's ambitions for Excellence and Diversity; it has particular resonance with the Creative Case for Diversity, which observes that diversity is an integral part of the artistic process.
Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: 'The diversity of this country is one of our great creative resources and that is why we are so pleased to be supporting Creative Minds which encourages people to challenge their perceptions of diversity in art and culture. We want the work we support to reflect the depth and range of diversity of our country and to be alive to the opportunity that this offers. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of this positive movement.'
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