Arts Council England – Funding Information Event (DASH: Disability Arts in Shropshire)

It was a great and valuable opportunity to attend the Arts Council England Funding Information Event in July 2019, organised by DASH (Disability Arts in Shropshire). DASH are a disability led visual arts charity who provide a variety of opportunities for disabled artists to develop their practice and to raise awareness of disability and disabled artists within the wider arts sector. The event took place at the Midlands Art Centre (MAC) in Birmingham.

This event provided a platform for informal discussion, guidance and advice on the Arts Council England (ACE) funding opportunities available for disabled artists and practitioners, including how to apply and top tips from those who were involved in the process. There was a particular focus on the relationship between the Arts Council and DASH, with some brief talks from artists who had successfully applied for funding in the past, and who had first-hand experience of the support systems available.

Bryony Windsor from Arts Council England provided detailed and helpful information on various project grants and access support available for those who need it, which is specifically intended to remove barriers. Descriptions of ACE project grants and how to apply included discussion of the purpose of such grants, the varied amount of funding available, and what types of activities were covered.

The discussion of access support, and how to apply for this within the grant, was particularly interesting. For instance Bryony discussed the historical application procedure and guidelines available via the ACE website, and noted recent attempts to remove barriers and make the application process more inclusive included alternative guidance notes in audio format and in larger fonts for those with visual impairments. Assistant Support workers are also available to assist with the application process; a particularly interesting description of their role included ‘to capture the voice’ of the artist and applicant. This discussion was very much in line with the goals of DASH in promoting the work of disabled artists.

Another funding opportunity available to disabled artists that was discussed within the event is the ‘Developing your Creative Practice’ initiative, which is currently open to apply for with deadlines ending in December 2019. With grants ranging from £2,000 – £10,000, this has proven to be a very popular form of funding for artists in the past, and again access support for applications to this opportunity is also available for any artists and practitioners who could benefit from further support.

The following panel of the event involved an informal discussion between DASH Director Mike Layward and Rosie Gunn from the Access Support and Mentoring Scheme within ACE to consider and ask questions about their own experiences, knowledge and advice with regards to the funding process.

Staff within DASH noted their ambition of making the visual arts sector more accessible for disabled artists and cultivating more opportunities for disabled artists, and the event concluded with the final session that included artist Anna Berry, current Curatorial Resident at MAC, which involved a further discussion of opportunities out there for disabled artists. Both Anna and Mike spoke about the curatorial residency opportunity as having both individual and collective impact (including knowledge, skillset, access, and value).

After this event, Research/Curate recorded our first ever podcast with Mike from DASH and Anna Berry! You can access the podcast and transcript on our page: https://researchcurate.com/research-curate-podcast-disability-arts/