Disabled artists still discriminated against

Disabled artists rights have gone backwards rather than progressed, an outcome of years of austerity.

“It’s harder and harder to get the support that we fought so hard for – support that’s only designed to give us an equal chance” says Jo Verrent (above), senior producer of Unlimited in an exclusive interview for AI published today. The Unlimited Festival of disabled artists is to open at the Southbank Centre in January,

Disabled artists - a record 50 are taking part in this edition of Unlimited – are seeing very slow progress, she says. “It’s not enough and it’s not fast enough. Unlimited should not have to be here. It’s only here due to the systemic discrimination of disabled artists within our arts sector".

The disabled have also been the hidden victims of the Covid pandemic, Verrent adds. “Two thirds of Covid-19 deaths in the UK have been disabled people” she says. The fact that this isn’t being screamed from the rooftops by our politicians shows the extent to which disabled people have been side-lined and seen as expendable.

“From the scandals around our care homes, the use of Do Not Resuscitate orders for disabled people without permission, the initial placing of us as 6th on the vaccine list (now amended to 4th), our lives are seen as expendable. Commerce wins.”

Disabled artists and companies have come together to try and push the narrative in a different direction and to look instead at what an inclusive recovery might look like for the arts sector. “We Shall Not Be Removed is a campaign group which sprang up during Covid with over 700 members – its seven principles for an inclusive recovery should be the bedrock for anything that happens from here on - https://www.weshallnotberemoved.com/7-principles/” she said.

Jo Verrent’s full interview is at https://www.artsindustry.co.uk/feature/2323-my-story-unlimited-where-disabled-artists-can-climb-over-the-barriers


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