DASH Annual Report 2018 - 2019

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Table of Contents

Page 3 Cultivating Spaces for Extraordinary Artists Page 4 Curatorial Commissions Page 5 Cultivate (2015 - 2018) Page 7 Processions Page 9 Changing the World in half a day Page 10 Free medicine Page 13 - 14 Finances

Photo from Processions preparation 2018

Introduction from the Chair Craig Ashley Chair, DASH January 2020

commemorating the first votes for women; it featured as part of national Processions programme marking 100 years of women’s suffrage. Matters of rights and representation run through our veins at DASH, and it was an important moment to stand shoulder to shoulder with communities across Britain and to reflect on how far we have come.

The remit of DASH grew significantly in 2018/19 to include more integrally our work with children and young people, as well as an expanded commissioning programme to support the development of Disabled artists as curators in some of the country’s most exciting visual arts venues. To the huge credit of our dedicated staff and board, and with the valued support of our friends and allies, we made the argument for an uplift to our regular funding from Arts Council England and were awarded an increase in investment of 70% over the next four years (2018-22). As part of the National Portfolio of regularly funded arts organisations, we are grateful to Arts Council for enabling us to continue our work with Disabled people nationwide.

There is still much work to be done when it comes to equity and access to opportunity, particularly for future generations of Disabled people. As a distinctive offer to young Disabled artists, our pilot programme Free Medicine rolled out in 2018/19 to begin to address gaps in provision and level the playing field. The programme has been successful in delivering accessible and inclusive arts workshops, developing the creative skills and confidence of the participants, and creating pathways into further activity and opportunities. Already this work has evidenced the benefits such interventions can have, at the same time signalling the need for more support, particularly for those in rural settings and isolated from the opportunities afforded in our towns and cities. There is still much work to be done.

As this report highlights, the team wasted no time in putting the increased investment to good use. Our projects have achieved great success over the past twelve months, bringing inspiration and joy as well as cultivating spaces for art that has positively challenged, questioned and provoked. During 2018, we worked with partners across Shrewsbury to create a banner

Looking ahead, I am excited to see our programmes continue to grow and develop, taking practical action to bring about change in both the visual arts and wider arts sector. Through our strong partnership working, this year demonstrates that we are leading the charge here and making ground in shaping inclusive spaces for Disabled people to live and work.

Cultivating Spaces for Extraordinary Artists

As a Disabled led organisation DASH always put the creative case for diversity at the core of its work. Its role, as a specialist Disability visual arts organisation, is to work with Disabled visual artists, galleries and arts organisations, and also support the development of artists and organisations working in all areas of diversity. It is essential that DASH supports the development of the visual arts infrastructure through the physical and metaphorical ‘opening of doors’ and the ‘laying of ramps’ in the Midlands region for Disabled people. DASH aims to help to: • retain Disabled arts graduates • commission work for practising Disabled artists • create opportunities for Disabled Artists and Disabled people to work in the arts, so they can become the curators, influencers and leaders of the future, in the region and beyond.

Wysing courtyard. Photo Credit: Jay Parekh

Curatorial Commissions Programme

Our ground breaking programme of one year long curatorial residencies started this year. We formed our network of three galleries; MAC Birmingham, MIMA Middlesbrough and Arnolfini Bristol (Arnolfini dropped out in February 2019 due to organisational issues and were replaced through a callout process by Wysing arts Centre in July 2019) This was the year where we laid the solid foundations and processes for the programme with partnership agreements and regular network planning meetings. To ensure the first callout for a Deaf and Disabled curator was as accessible as possible a BSL/subtitled/voice over film was created, applications by video or audio were also encouraged. There were twenty-eight applications and two were by video. The process culminated with the appointment of Anna Berry as our first curatorial resident.

Curatorial resident; Anna Berry

CULTIVATE (2015 – 2018)

Funded by Esmee Fairbairn, the Cultivate mentoring project was completed during this year. Forty-five artists have been mentored in total. When asked how they felt their work as an artist had changed as a result of the process, all of the menteas reported that they felt more confident as a result of the mentoring. “I can’t tell you enough how the first mentoring session profoundly changed my practice and how I felt about myself and the work that I was making.” “I’m more determined and feel I am being taken more seriously.” “I know that there is a chance for me to access more support to allow me to continue my practice as an artist.” “The thing that made it really meaningful for me was being able to talk about my work. Previously I felt like I wasn’t able to speak to anybody. The fact that someone valued me as an artist, and said yes, we would like to support your practice, was a huge thing. And then the individual relationship that you are

able to cultivate with your individual mentor is pretty vital.” The major impacts of the programme were: • Increased ambition in practice as an artist • Increased confidence as a disabled person • Development and confidence in artistic practice for disabled artists • Increased opportunities for disabled artists in the West Midlands • Increase in disabled artists accessing Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts funding support (Five artists received a collective total of £42,000 of Arts Council funding) “It is clear from the menteas through anecdotal information, that the biggest overarching difference that the programme has made to the lives of disabled artists has been through the one-to-one contact with the mentors. Many of the mentees have faced various forms of isolation as disabled people, and a lack of support for their creative ambitions. All of the mentoring has

been delivered on a face-to-face basis, with the mentors travelling across the region to access the mentees and their work. This has helped to remove the barrier of isolation that many of the menteas faced, to be able to discuss their work and practice with an experienced mentor that was able to listen to them, acknowledge their work as artists, support them and expand their horizon and perspectives. This impact on the wellbeing of the menteas through the mentoring programme reduces the need for support from other areas of society.” Artist Support The Cultivate mentoring scheme finished in April 2018 and left a gap in our artist support offer. To ensure that Disabled artists can continue to be supported in their development, DASH has offered artists a basic support package, which includes: • Mentoring around career development • Feedback on draft grant and commission bids • Assistance in finding support workers for Arts Council grants During 18/19 we supported thirty-three artists with forty-eight sessions, one organisation was also supported. These artists are predominantly based in the Midlands, but a number of artists also came from England and Wales. One of our artists was successful in applying for a ‘Developing your creative practice’ grant and another artist successfully applied to Unlimited with our support. Cultivate Mentor


DASH worked with The Hive, SAND, Participate Artspace, Quatt Village Hall and The Wakes, to create a series of inclusive workshops for all women and to create a banner commemorating the first votes for women. The participants decided to call themselves the Shropshire Subversive Stitchers and created a Facebook group to share ideas and keep in touch. Participants from the group also made a connection with Sunnycroft, a National Trust Property in Wellington, Shropshire. There was a drop in session there as part of the property’s Handycraft weekend on Sunday 13 May. Joan Lander was the last owner of the house, who taught at the Royal School of Needlework, before returning home to look after her ageing father. There was lots of interest on the day and participants returned to Sunnycroft on Saturday 2 June to engage with the public and invite them to create chain links for the banner. The last two workshops were at The Hive in Shrewsbury on 21 May and 5 June and were a veritable ‘hive’ of activity! Bringing together the separate elements to complete the banner.

There were forty-three participants between five and ninety-eight years of age attending the DASH workshops and we estimate that over two hundred women created a chain link or contributed to the banner. On Sunday 10th June the group of headed off for the PROCESSION at Cardiff. Twenty-seven women joined us on the coach to march for two miles through the city’s streets. We joined approximately 10,000 women in Cardiff. It was a truly memorable day. The banner was exhibited at: • The Hive in Shrewsbury • Forge Urban Revival’s Equality Event in Telford • Quatt Village Hall near Bridgenorth • Dudmaston Hall - National Trust property near Bridgenorth • The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry • The Spill Festival in Ipswich

Processions in Cardiff.


In October 2018 DASH invited artists and organisations across Shropshire to ‘Change the World in half a day’. The session was run for Shropshire Council and was copresented by Mike Layward and Tanya Raabe-Webber. The seminar looked at: • What is Equality and Diversity: The history of struggles for equal rights and justice • What is Disability arts? Looking at the book ‘The Incorrigibles’ and the National Disability Arts Archive • Disabled artists and Learning Disabled artists. Q and A with Tanya Raabe Webber her work as a Disabled artist, activist and Art Studio 01 Shrewsbury Learning Disabled art studio • Cultivate Film. Cultivate was a 3 year mentoring programme for Disabled visual artists based in the West Midlands • How to be inclusive - Discussion on what you need to do to make your programmes inclusive


Our pilot young persons’ art project, ‘Free Medicine’ began in July 2018 and has successfully enabled disabled young people in Shropshire to participate in accessible and inclusive arts workshops. The participants have developed their creative skills and through ongoing mentoring and support. Participants have also reported growth in soft skills such as confidence, communication and improvement in mental wellbeing. Highlights included branding of their collective - where they created the Free Medicine logo, printmaking, acrylic landscape and portraiture painting andpuppet making. The group went on to learn about textiles and embroidery, design icons for the Shropshire Council website and visited galleries in Birmingham. For most, this trip to Birmingham proved to be their first trip to a gallery or museum. “This is more support than I’ve ever been given at college, it’s great to know I can actually talk to someone about my films and animations and get advice”

“I have never been away from my Mom before – we are always together. These workshops have helped to build my confidence.”

Catalyst DASH was awarded Catalyst funding from Arts Council England. This funding was specifically for organisational development and fundraising. The DASH website needed an update and as part of the fundraising drive, the new website has a donate page linked to Paypal giving. This is a trusted way of paying for many people and the donations started very quickly when the new website was launched. We also wanted to make the website more visual, we are a visual arts organisation after all this has been achieved with a new home page, new layouts for projects and artists sections and the inclusion of a video player. “I love what you have done to present the work of a range of artists” - Sue Austin “That’s great, it looks good!” David Hevey – Director Shape Arts

We also held development days, looking at succession planning and the positioning of DASH now and in the future. Mike Layward will be retiring in 2022 and two of our longest serving board members will also be stepping down in the near future, so it was a really great to spend time thinking and discussing the future. Catalyst meant that DASH could invest in training for its staff and board, an area that can be pushed to the side when funds are limited. And the final part of the funding enabled us to contract an external consultant to work all this into a fundraising strategy to help keep DASH’s future secure. DASH follows the Charity Governance Code for small charities: www.charitygovernancecode.org/en

Supporters & Partners

DASH, 5 Belmont, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY1 1TE 01743 272 939 info@dasharts.org facebook.com/DASHDISABILITYARTS/ twitter.com/dash underscore arts instagram.com/dashdisabilityarts