New Year Resolution: I’ve Finished Sitting, and Need to Stand

I have little time to talk much about the past 12 months now the new year approaches. However, I promise you, artistic disabled people should be proud of what they’ve achieved in 2021.

My blog changed a lot at the start of the year. It now focuses on discussing what disability arts are available within the UK. So many disabled people have been shielding, but that hasn’t stopped certain individuals from sending messages. People have also continued to create various art where they live, more often providing access to their new material online. Although it’s been a tough year, they have frequently impressed me.

Only Hoping to Heave Attention

Not so long ago, the partnership of two celebrities led to exploitation of excellent choreography. One was a disabled woman, and the other was a non-disabled man. Born deaf, Rose Ayling-Ellis became the first disabled winner of Strictly Come Dancing in 2021. She learnt how to dance and performed with professional dancer Giovanni Pernice throughout the contest.

So, one person was disabled, and one person was not. Does that make it disability arts? Well, it’s arguable.

Rose was born in 1994, and in 2020 managed to find work as an actress on BBC soap opera Eastenders. However, she’s now proved she has exceptional artistic abilities on the dancefloor too. I only hope people now believe sound and people with hearing impairments can still combine so well. For example, in Manchester, this year artist James Holt released critically acclaimed music. The University of Salford music degree graduate also has hearing impairments – and he’s not alone, either.

Essential Innovation

However, although it’s not been as noticed on television, I believed the most significant material provided this year was written, directed, and produced by experienced disability arts specialist Vici Wreford-Sinnott. In 2019, journalist Dr Frances Ryan also released her book Crippled. It’s sub-heading Austerity and the Demonization of Disabled People accurately describes it’s content.

This book then played a significant role by inspiring Hen Night; a BBC Culture in Quarantine short film made available on BBC iPlayer in early September.

The production includes an excellent performance by actress Nicola Chegwin. She plays the role of Jessica, an independent woman who returns from her hen night before the pandemic arrives. As time continues, Jessica finds her life unfairly damaged by cuts to services. She clarifies that discrimination so often harms her and other disabled people within society. 

Although the media regularly overlooks disability as a subject, Dr Frances Ryan also a writes about it as a journalist for The Guardian

After its release, Vici Wreford-Sinnott and Frances Ryan were interviewed by The Guardian and Vogue magazine. Quite a while has passed since disability arts had been used to raise awareness of disabled people’s difficulties. I think their work inspired me to write my songs for the same reason. Their much-praised production is still available to watch via YouTube, and I think every person in the country should watch it.

Fresh Focus, Current Friends

I’ve interviewed a variety of disabled artists this year. It was great talking with them; I believe I’ve made new friends too. I’ve been interested in other work I’ve come across, and further inspired to become more creative. But, although they are interesting, these arts rarely spoke words about our withheld human rights. As you can see above, my blog has always had its ‘Power of the Disability Arts’ page available. It speaks about how artists can send important political messages to others. And now, as the new year approaches, I believe it’s time for more creative individuals to start using these energies.

I’ve kept myself quiet over the past six months, but now have plans to become an executive of the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People. I’ve written quite a few songs during my quiet time, and am now spending some of my time updating my music production abilities.

An Equality Studio in 2022?

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that I applied for a grant via Arts Council England at the start of December. The previous blog spoke about how a home music studio could benefit so many disabled people in Greater Manchester. I requested funding for what’s labelled as ‘Home Music Studio of Equality’. My plan is to record and produce some of my own songs that promote wellbeing of disabled people and equality.

Mixing Console, Piano and Laptop
A total of £6000 was requested to fund the portable recording studio that will be based in Greater Manchester

After that, I’m then willing to help produce other people’s music for a much lower than typical fee. However, the music I record and produce must involve songs that artistically support any people who are unfairly discriminated against in society. All people who use the studio must also support equality and fully understand why disabled people deserve further justice.

I’ve still got a while to wait before I can clarify whether I will receive the grant. However, I have received confirmation that Arts Council England consider my application eligible for potential funding.

It’s Time to Stand

One last thing to tell you is that I’m planning to speak up all the more. I did this more at the start of the year, but, as mentioned, kept myself quiet for about six months. I need to make sure I get to know as many disabled people as possible – and non-disabled people, too. I’ll be getting to know executive members of the GMCDP all the more to begin with, but it won’t end there. Some people will remember me, some people won’t, but I imagine I’ve got many more people to meet.

I’ll be looking to persuade many other people to begin speaking as well. Disabled people haven’t done enough to get what we obviously deserve. I’m about to work as hard as ever to gain us much more justice in society. If you’re willing to help, get in touch, and, please, tag along too.

Standing Up by Mario A.P.