The appreciation of art, in all its forms, is intrinsically subjective. In performance or exhibition, the artist opens the door to the public and we, the audience, respond to it on our own terms. So why is it that, on the rare occasion when the creative artist has a learning disability, the rules seem to change? Our qualitative judgements become woolly – sometimes we really don't know what to think, let alone what to say.
Creative Minds, a national conversation about quality in learning disability art, explores this and related questions through showcase-led conferences around the country. Initiated by learning disability led arts company Carousel in 2013, Creative Minds invites arts organisations, writers, funders, academics and audiences to debate issues around representation, quality and critical response. Previous conferences in Brighton and Bristol are followed on Wednesday 28 October by Creative Minds East, hosted by Jerwood Dance House in Ipswich.
On the day you can watch performances and see art by ActOne ArtsBase's Freedom Dance, DanceEast, Razed Roof Theatre Company, Corali, Oska Bright Film Festival, and Zinc Arts Film.
Gus Garside, National Coordinator for Creative Minds, says: "We know that work created by learning disabled artists and performers is not significantly represented in venues and galleries. It is only by having an accessible discussion between learning disabled artists and performers and representatives of the wider arts world that we can begin to understand why that is. We feel it is only by candidly discussing the barriers that we can begin to remove them."
The previous two events were very lively with hundreds of delegates joining the discussion, bookings made for festival appearances and lots of comment online – the website encourages discussion on its chat-room.
As artist and panel member Sarah Watson says, "we are fed up with not being treated as proper artists and performers, being talked about as therapy not art."
Scott Ramsay, Director, Harlow Playhouse adds;
"Creative Minds forms an important part of our debate about how we frame story-telling in a wide range of accessible ways, and a useful tool in debating our shared concerns about inclusivity, and what we mean by 'quality'."
Come and join the conversation. Ipswich awaits.
Carousel is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity. It has championed learning disabled creative artists for over thirty years. www.carousel.org.uk