For 40 years Shape has been aiming to break the barriers that face those with disabilities who are looking to get into, or advance within, the arts sector. The Inspiring Futures event provided a chance for people to discuss the issues faced by young people with disabilities and to show what possible opportunities are available for them in the field of work.
The event started off with a panel discussion highlighting how to ensure accessible and inclusive career routes for young disabled people. The panel included a variety of people from different backgrounds including Lilly Cook, a member of Shape Arts' Young Leaders Forum. The discussion was empowering and refreshing to hear, having been at arts conferences about how art can change the world it was interesting to hear opinions from a different perspective where a decisions can make a difference to a young person's future.
The panel was followed with a short film about the experience of members from Shape Arts', young leader's forum before going into a break which led to workshops and performances later in the day.
Overall I believe events like these are much needed in the UK and have so much relevance alongside wider discussions about aiding young people's journey into the arts. Celebrating Shape's 40 years of impactful change by inspiring young people to discuss issues that matter to them felt like a meaningful thing to do, and allowed the young people to take the conversation into their own hands - something which is sadly often missing from conferences about young people. I hope to see more of this kind of event around the country.
This event happened as we celebrated Arts Award Week, and it was good to see the many great activities that were happening across the country to show the industry just how much art changes young people's lives; in the words of Sam Castell-Ward, another Shape youth leader: 'This event gives you hope – these people are the proof that it can happen!'
Image via Shape Arts