Sydney Festival launches Australian first initiative to increase opportunity within the arts

Posted 1 week ago by Nicole Pope

Sydney Festival Director Wesley Enoch and Chief Executive Officer of Accessible Arts Kerry Comerford [Source: Joan Cameron-Smith]
Sydney Festival Director Wesley Enoch and Chief Executive Officer of Accessible Arts Kerry Comerford [Source: Joan Cameron-Smith]

An Australian first initiative will help address the low representation of artists with disability at the nation’s largest summer annual arts festival.

Sydney Festival and Accessible Arts have partnered to launch the Disability Programming Initiative which aims to increase the number of artists with disability participating and performing in festivals.

Applications are now open for the 2020 festival program until 31 March 2019, with applicants to be supported through each stage of the submission process.

The annual event has a long history and commitment to promoting inclusivity and accessibility by removing obstacles and encouraging all people living in Sydney to get involved, however, this initiative has a targeted focus in increasing representation of artists with disability.

The festival’s Access and Inclusion Advisory Panel highlights the myriad of complex issues associated with programming of artists with disability such as lack of funding, misconceptions about quality of work and inaccessible venues and application processes.

Festival Director of Sydney Festival Wesley Enoch says the initiative will help make the offerings at Sydney Festival even better.

“Sydney Festival takes seriously our role to unite our city and create memorable moments we are all excited by,” he says.

“We have a long history of inclusion and accessibility for audiences and via this new initiative we will be focussing on giving artists with disabilities a platform for their diverse range of work to be included in the annual Sydney Festival program.”

Chief Executive Officer of Accessible Arts Kerry Comerford says providing opportunities for artists with disability recognises the under-representation and employment of people with disability in the arts in our country.

“Alongside the numerous accessible performances for audiences, it is equally important that what Sydney Festival presents in their annual program reflects the society in which we live, which means including artists with disability or who are Deaf in their programming.”

Chair of the Sydney Festival Access and Inclusion Advisory Panel Riana Head-Toussaint hopes the Disability Programming Initiative will force other festivals, arts and cultural institutions to take a look at their own programs and make positive change.

“This targeted initiative by Sydney Festival is an acknowledgement of the fact that artists with disability experience particular disadvantage when attempting to secure artistic opportunities in Australia and that space needs to be carved out in an effort to change this,” she says.

“It is a real commitment to seeing the diversity of Australian life accurately reflected through arts and culture and I have no doubt it will lead to some phenomenal projects by systematically undervalued artists finally reaching broader audiences.”

Pitches can be submitted in multiple formats including a printed document, audio, video or in person.

For information on Sydney Festival submissions click here.

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