Australia Council CEO Tony Grybowski made the announcement at Meeting Place – the national forum on arts and disability, saying this was a priority for the Australia Council.
“Artists with disability create powerful work. This work offers unique insights which can shift perspectives and redefine art forms. It’s imperative we empower artists with disability to achieve their artistic ambitions, so that the arts truly reflect the diversity of our nation,” said Mr Grybowski.
“This investment builds on the Council’s previous commitments to disability arts, and will focus dedicated support for artists with disability through structured mentorships and two new national awards which will increase the visibility of leading established artists and rising stars.”
The Australia Council will invest $250k each year over three years to support: two new national awards to celebrate the achievement of artists with disability to be awarded annually on International Day of People with Disability commencing in 2019; and structured mentorships supporting artists with disability to further develop their artistic practice through a practice-based project or career development opportunity, opening in 2019. Further details about both initiatives will be revealed later this year.
The commitment is informed by recent Australia Council research which highlights the importance of agency and ownership, as well as the need for visible success stories and role models to create pathways for other artists with disability.
The report features case studies, including the story of Perth-based artist Julia Hales who collaborated with an extraordinary team to present You Know We Belong Together – a show about love, sexuality and the portrayal of people with disability in popular culture.
Support for artists with disability is a priority for the Australia Council, as its research Making Art Work highlights the need for greater investment. Artists with disability continue to be under-represented among practicing professional artists and earn on average 42% less than their counterparts without disability.
The Australia Council has had a longstanding commitment to artists with disability, with current priorities outlined in its Disability Action Plan. This works alongside the Council’s Cultural Engagement Framework to promote greater access and inclusion in the arts.
Image: Julia Hales performing in You Know We Belong Together at the 2018 Perth Festival – photo by Toni Wilkinson