A major Asia Pacific disability and arts festival took place in Singapore on March 2018, branded as a ground-breaking first and history in the making for the disability and arts community in Singapore. Despite the unprecedented scale and international publicity, there were some criticisms from the disability community on the ground. Some felt excluded from the event because access provisions were not adequate, particularly those with sensory differences. One salient sentiment expressed that this could not be considered a milestone for disability arts in Singapore as the event was not disability-led nor were the acts conveying and showcasing disability culture and voices. Others expressed that there has yet to be true authentic disability arts in Singapore.
So, what is meaningful disability arts from the perspective of disabled artists and how do we progress towards a place where these artists aspire to be?
This study examines how disabled artists define their craft in the spectrum where arts and disability intersect, given that what counts as “disability arts” is often contested and negotiated. In understanding their motivation in pursuing their artistic journey, the barriers they have been facing, and what aspiration and progress looks like to them, this study aims to articulate what meaningful disability arts is from the perspectives of the disabled artists.
The study can facilitate disabled artists’ understanding of the intention and impact associated with their works across the spectrum of disability arts. It can also guide collaborating artists to consider aligning their personal values and motivation towards their craft with those of their counterparts with disabilities in collaborations. The study can provide policy-makers, arts managers, educators and related organisation representatives guiding principles informed by disability perspectives when developing the area of disability arts, including accessible and inclusive programming, talent development, policy-making and strategic planning.
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