Artists with Disability Face Uncertain Future

For Immediate Release - Artists with Disability Face Uncertain Future

The release of the Government’s Creative Australia policy yesterday has left artists with disability and arts and disability organisations lacking certainty about how the one in five Australians with disability will be empowered to contribute to arts and culture as audiences, artists, employees and arts leaders.   Arts Access Australia, the national voice for artists with disability welcomes a policy which is inclusive of all Australians, but is disappointed that it does not explicitly recognise the right of people with disability to have full and equal access to arts and culture as the Commonwealth Government did when it became a signatory to the United Nations convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Instead, it refers to the need for increased “tolerance” of people with disability, rather than recognising their significant contribution as artists, and their right to self-determination in relation to arts and cultural access.   The policy references the National Arts and Disability strategy as playing a key role in improving access to arts and culture for people with disability. Yet the strategy has had investment of only $500000 in 2011 from the commonwealth government and low levels of investment by state and territory Governments. It remains largely unrealised and Arts access Australia estimates that an investment of $24 million over four years is required to support its implementation across the country.   Arts Access Australia CEO, Emma Bennison said that artists with disability are being left behind. “The purpose of the national arts and disability strategy was to leverage new investment by bringing all levels of Government together. There have been some important achievements to-date, but three years on, too many artists still have little or no access to training, professional development and employment and too many venues are still not funded or required to offer access for people with disability as audiences.”    “We call on the Minister to recognise as a matter of urgency that as with Indigenous Australians, people with disability also have important and meaningful stories to tell of social and cultural prejudice through the arts which have the power to change our society. At a time when Australia is implementing the National disability Insurance Scheme, a once-in-a-generation reform, it is inconceivable that the contribution artists with disability have to make to that cultural transformation has not been supported by new funding. It makes the arts and cultural sector appear out of step with the mood of the Australian community which it is the role of the arts to reflect.”   Arts Access Australia and its members are disappointed that the National arts and Disability Strategy has not been prioritised by Government despite the quality of work produced by artists with disability. We look forward to clarity as to when the National arts and disability Strategy will be appropriately funded to ensure that the 4.2 million Australians with disability can enjoy the benefits of Creative Australia too.  

For further information 

  Emma Bennison CEO Arts Access Australia   Phone 0419 201 338 (voice / text) Email emma@artsaccessaustralia.org Skype artsaccessaustralia2 Web www.artsaccessaustralia.org    
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