About the Research Project
Australian disability arts are recognised globally for their innovation and impact.
To date, however, the historical legacy this celebrated body of contemporary work builds on remains largely undocumented.
This project aims to create an online archive documenting the evolution of disability arts in Australia since the 1970s. It hopes to find out which people, companies, works, and critical moments in arts and disability policy that have helped shaped development of the field of disability arts in Australia as we know it today, when, and how. It then seeks to share that information in a way that benefits artists, arts organisations, government, and scholars in their present and future work to create more inclusive industry by –
- Providing artists with access to their cultural heritage.
- Providing arts policy makers, funding agencies, producers, and programmers with insight to inform future strategic initiatives to make the industry more inclusive of people with disabilities.
- Providing the arts sector more broadly with insight into the quality work across artforms, genres, and styles artists with disability have been producing for generations now.
The project will begin with interviews and archival research with people who have been involved in Disability Arts around Australia. The Research Project team, and the broader Research Project Steering Committee, will use critical disability studies analysis to identify issues and themes related to personal, medical, social, political, economic, aesthetic experience, or experience of change over time, the interviews and archival research may reveal. It is anticipated the information gathered during interviews and archival research will be quite varied, depending on what participants wish to focus on, as well as length of engagement in the field, artform, and other factors.
The project will continue with co-design workshops with members of disability arts community in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth, reviewing issues and themes that have come up in the initial research, to determine how information about Disability Arts in Australia at different time periods, across different parts of Australia, across different art genres, and amongst different communities, will be presented in the archive. It is anticipated that this may include curated information about the overall history of Disability Arts in Australia, different artforms, different moments in policy and practice, but the actual presentation of content in the archive will not be determined until these co-design workshops take place.
The project will construct the archive in light of the recommendations from the co-design workshops and invite members of the disability arts and wider arts community to test it, to ensure it is effective in sharing evolving histories with the disability arts community, and the wider arts community.
More information about each stage of the research, and participation in each stage of the research, will be available online as the project unfolds.
The project is funded through an Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative for Australian Society, History, and Culture grant.