November Update

Greetings to our Supporters!  We hope you have been well…

This year we have been taking stock on what we have done as an organisation since we began in 2016:

A great part in our deciding to ‘pause’ on delivering face-to-face activities in 2021 has been the on-going detrimental impact that Covid-19 is having upon disabled and other marginalised people’s* access to arts and culture:  as we’re sure many of you have experienced; the pandemic’s impact has created additional barriers to accessing everyday activities many people take for granted including taking part in the arts – as audience members, arts producers and performers.

(*marginalised due to factors such as poverty, poor housing, ill-health and other factors).

It’s worth recalling at this moment, as venues have re-opened to the public, that the United Nation’s Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities states in Article 30: “…State Parties recognise the rights of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others in cultural life…”.  We must remind ourselves that this access to culture is a human right – not an optional policy for arts and culture’s gate-keepers – including arts venue managers, theatres, cinemas and museum managers.

For many of our participants, our supporters, our arts practitioners, and indeed, our board members, the act of attending performances or being a performer within venues now involves this additional layer of inaccessibility and increased risk to which many of us are finding too great a risk for us to take – with no end date in sight.  This has resulted in a loss of income for many disabled and diverse practitioners and performers and a loss of the ability to participate in the arts: this is having a considerable impact upon their mental health.

What now?

We were fortunate in 2020 to gain Emergency grant funding support from Arts Council England which has enabled us to take part in online organisational development activities with inclusive arts organisation Epic Arts who operate both in the UK and in Cambodia.  Through this process, we have been re-imagining the current structure and aims of No Label Arts.

Some major changes will be coming in 2022 – re-aligning what our priorities will be as an organisation.  We want to expand who we work with – diversify our beneficiaries and co-conspirators to include disabled people and people who are under-represented in the arts due to their social class, age, gender, sexual preference and health factors.

We also want to be presenters of new works created by under-represented artists – both locally based and international producers.

Our Director, Samantha Blackburn will be involved in a research and development project in 2022 – visiting inclusive theatre organisations and festivals in the UK and Canada to learn about good practise in co-producing theatre work and diverse arts festivals curated by disabled and under-represented producers. 

This work has been supported by a ‘Developing Your Creative Practise’ grant from Arts Council England that she was successful in gaining this year. 

Thank you to Arts Council England for your continued support of our work.

We will keep you posted with news of future developments in 2022 – for now, please be safe!

All the best,

No Label Arts CIC.