In today’s world we hear the phrases ‘inclusive society’ and ‘equal opportunity’ often but what does this mean in performing arts?
It is essential for the performing arts industry to embrace accessibility and provide equal opportunities for artists with disability. But beyond inclusivity, the representation of artists with disability on stage in a paid professional capacity is a significant step toward creating a more inclusive society and creates many lasting benefits that we will unpack below.
As a team, we sat down and delved into the importance of representation on stage. We explored the positive outcomes of accessible arts and discussed what we we aspire to achieve, promote, and improve within the sector through the work of Undercover Artist.
The Power of Representation
Representation matters. Often artists with disability are underrepresented in mainstream media and on stage leading to a lack of visibility and fostering stigmas. When artists with disability take centre stage, it challenges preconceived notions, break down stereotypes, and fosters a greater understanding and acceptance within society. By featuring artists in paid roles, the performing arts industry amplifies their voices, tells their stories authentically, and create genuine connections with audiences.
Shattering Stereotypes and Challenging Perceptions
Inclusive representation in the performing arts industry offers a unique platform to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about disability – something we aim to do at Undercover Artist. By portraying diverse characters with disability, artists can showcase their talent, skills, and abilities, moving beyond the traditional narratives of disability as misfortune or inspiration. This representation encourages the audience to recognise the multifaceted nature each individual in society and see people as people first – that are capable of contributing to society just like any person would.
Inspiring and Educating Audiences
Performing arts have the potential to inspire and educate audiences in profound ways. When individuals with disability are represented on stage, it not only provides a source of encouragement for other aspiring artists with disability, but also educates the wider public. Through storytelling and artistic expression, these performances can cultivate acceptance, understanding, and social change. By witnessing the talent and creativity of artists with disability, audiences gain a deeper appreciation for their unique perspectives and contributions to the arts.
Creating Opportunities and Changing Lives
By creating paid roles to artists with disability, the performing arts industry provides opportunities for them to pursue their passion and develop their skills professionally. These opportunities can be life-changing, not only in terms of artistic growth but also in terms of financial independence and personal worth. When artists with disability are paid for their work, it sends a message that their contributions are valued, and they deserve equal recognition and compensation throughout the industry.
Image: Lauren Watson presenting NERVE at Undercover Artist Festival 2021
The inclusion and representation of artists with disabilities in paid roles within the performing arts industry are crucial steps toward building a more inclusive society. By challenging stereotypes, promoting accessibility, and inspiring audiences, accessible performing arts provide a platform for individuals with disability to showcase their talents and stories authentically. It is essential for the industry to continue embracing accessibility and offering paid opportunities for artists with disability, ensuring that the stage truly reflects the diversity of society.
Undercover Artist Festival returns this September 20 – 23 at Queensland Theatre in partnership with Brisbane Festival.
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