ROAR – History of Disability and Art Conference

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ROAR Disability Arts Festival Co-ordinator, Shawanda Corbett, attended the History of Disability and Art Conference in London last Saturday. The conference was about how the Disability Arts Movement and that connection with the politics of the Disability Movement. Also, it was a promotion for the UK Disability History Month 22 November- 22 December.

Richard Rieser is Director of Disability Equality in Education, a UK NGO that provides training, consultancy and resources to improve the position of disabled people in the education system. Rieser is a disabled person and has been a teacher focusing on inclusion for thirty years. He was UK Disabled Peoplersquo;s Council representative at the Ad Hoc Committee meetings that formulated the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Richard Rieser gave an opening lecture at the conference. He targeted the history of disability in works of art, artists, the rejection of disability in different cultures, and the idolise of disability in other societies. The academic activism was presented to educators from secondary and primary schools, art sectors that supports the Disability Arts Movement, and disabled artists/artists who identified as disabled.

‘Disability art is young. Disability people becoming part of the social agenda with their stories, their issues and their lives. Traditionally, lives that have been buried, locked in the attics of guilty and repression, ignored by the pursuit of false perfection. Disability art uncovers this silent history, reveals disabled people as part of the human-race and gives a sky for their dreams to takes shape.’ – Alan Holdsworth aka Johnny Crescendo

The discussion of the disability rights protests being influenced by the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Apartheid Movement. The presentation of the need of disability rights, in relation to both movements, was about the systematic oppression of the disabled people that begins in education, which this feeds into the society behaviour towards the disabled individuals. The outcome of the conference was to reach as many academic as possible to change the perception of disability in young people.

The History of Disability and Arts Conference had other presentations by artists, Tony Heaton and Tanya Raabe-Webber, activists, and the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive. One of the many highlights of the conference was Barbara Lisicki, NDACA contributor and participant of the Direction Action Network. She talked about the historical protests DAN and showed the design t-shirts that was used as statement, which was inclusive for the physically disabled who could not carry signs in protests. There are different ways to protest and being heard. Speaking out is a necessary in Oxfordshire, to encourage the young people to fight for a better future, not just for the disabled people, but for everyone.

The conference was an overall success.

For more information about the UK Disability History Month launch, please visit the website.

Link to our ROAR page

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