Methodology

Face to Face Interviews

The gathering of insights of local practitioners was done through face-to-face interviews on a one-to-one basis. A total of five disabled artists and two non-disabled collaborating artists were interviewed. The interviewees included one autistic artist, one deaf artist, one blind artist and two artists who use wheelchairs. The art forms included dance, theatre and music. The interviews were targeted to have a duration of maximum of 90 minutes. However, most of the interviews extended up to 2.5 hours.

The interview guide was as follows:

  1. How did you get started in your craft?
  2. Could you share with me your journey and experience?
  3. What do you consider to be successes so far in your journey as an artist?
  4. What do you think are the factors that have made these successes possible?
  5. What have been your challenges and barriers? How have you overcome them? If not, what do you think is needed to remove these barriers?
  6. How do you aspire to progress in your craft? What do you need to achieve that?
  7. What are the values that are important to you in defining your success?
  8. What motivates you to practice and keep on this path?
  9. How do you think your disability impacts the way others see you as an artist and your works?
  10. How do you identify and define your craft in the spectrum of disability arts?
  11. What is your opinion of the definition of the spectrum given by current literature?
  12. How do you define quality in disability (&) arts?
  13. How do you think disability should be portrayed and represented in the performing arts?
  14. What do you think of the current state of development of disability (&) arts in Singapore?
  15. What do you think needs to be in place in Singapore for disability (&) arts to develop further?
  16. What do you think of the existing approaches to disability arts in other countries as applied to the local context?

Data Analysis

Audio recordings were transcribed. Coding was carried out on the text from these interview transcripts. The codes were interpreted into themes presented in the findings. The findings were then analysed together with the literature review to inform the resulting recommendations.

Possible errors and limitations

Convenience sampling was used to select the interviewees. One reason to use this sampling method was the limited timeframe. However, more importantly, the nature of the interviews was rather personal and sensitive, hence it was only feasible when the participant already knew and trusted the researcher to a certain extent. Due to the sampling method and timeframe, the sample size was small and limited to certain disability groups, hence this study would not be a comprehensive representation of the entire disability community.

Different art forms and disabilities and the different combinations of the two would have unique insights. Each interviewee might also only be familiar with the art form that he/she is involved in. Hence the sample might not provide perspectives adequate for generalisation.

Ethical and Methodological Issues

Because the community of disability arts practitioners in Singapore is small, it is possible for participants to be identified based on the insights they provide, even if the reported findings are aggregated and all personal identification is removed. Additional care has been exercised to minimise this possibility. For example, the identity of the artist can be easily inferred if the combination of the art form and disability is revealed. Hence this information is not listed in this paper. Pronouns used in this paper are also randomised. The findings were sent to the six interviewees to review whether any parts of the paper would put them at risk of identification. There were no objections to the writing.

As an active practitioner in the sector, there is a risk that my deep emotional investment in the topic, as well as the dynamics of personal relationships between myself as the researcher and the participants, might skew the collection and analysis of the data. Hence, I, as the researcher, would need to exercise great reflexivity during the whole process.

As there has not been much formal research done in this area for Singapore, many meaningful and authentic insights may come from personal conversations and social media conversations. These data sources might not be considered valid by research, but they provide valuable insights not otherwise accessible via conventional means. Hence some of these have been incorporated into the discussion section.

Next: Findings