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Arts Activated Conference 2012

Desire and Destination
30 – 31 October 2012

The Concourse, Sydney
409 Victoria Avenue Chatswood NSW

Arts Activated 2012 offers delegates a range of break-out sessions under four streams. Break-out sessions are an opportunity to learn, explore and contribute to the conversation about current practice in arts & disability: The four streams include:

  • Artists – topics exploring the experience of artists with disability in a number of possible roles. 
  • Disability/Community – the programs, places and people that inclusively facilitate art and artist development. 
  • Venues - the many pathways to hosting accessible art and audience development.
  • Partnerships – the cross-sector ventures that make growth in Australian arts/disability projects possible.

Day 1: Tues - Session 1

Artists: Experiences Leading

Collisions Dancers: Sophie Darling, Karina Gaal, Nakarin Jaikla, Fiona Koski, Elvin Lam, Sophie Li, Bethany Robinson and Anna Seymour Photographer: Pippa DoddsCollision – Beyond Community Projects or Partners for Professional Pathways

Joanna Dunbar, VIC

Collision is a dance project which has bought together brought together deaf and hearing dancers along with two professional choreographers, one deaf and one hearing, to create a contemporary dance work that is accessible to deaf and hearing audiences.

Colours in a Black World

Zhila Hasanloo, NSW

Zhila’s presentation looks at the process of developing and performing a radio drama and focuses on the blind Iranian participants’ personal experiences within this process. The accessibility of radio for the blind allows it to become a means of transferring the multilayered experiences of its blind participants to a diverse audience.

Janelle Colquhoun, QLD

Disability/Community Projects: Supported Studios
Matthew Calandra & Reg Mombassa, Cicada Press, COFAMapping Supported Studios in the Art World

Colin Rhodes, Sydney College of the Arts, Gabrielle Mordy Supported Studio Network, Studio Artists, Tamara Winikoff, National Association for the Visual Arts, Michael Kempson, College of Fine Arts, Damien Minton, Damien Minton Gallery

This session will present the objectives of the newly formed Supported Studio Network, followed by a panel discussion that aims to identify barriers and openly discuss pathways to a future where visual artists with disability operate in the contemporary art world without differentiation or exclusion.  

Venues: Large Venues Upgrades

Over the past two years major upgrades and refurbishmnets have been undertaken across the state. Presenters will outline the process, achievements and pitfalls of ensuring that access was a part of the vision. 

The Concourse - A truly accessible venue

Nick Tobin, NSW

Delivering The Concourse was a 14 year journey.  One of the main drivers for the project was to deliver fully accessible venues on the site - whether they be the restaurants, performing arts venue, library or the parking - all were planned with accessibility as a priority.  This presentation wil describe the process, lessons learned, and outcomes achieved.

Partnerships: Governments, Arts and Disability
ADAPT for Arts Sake

Judith Sears, VIC

As a result of the cross government Picture This Research report in 2011, Arts Victoria in partnership with the Office for Disability commissioned Arts Access Victoria to create and pilot arts industry specific Arts Disability Action Plan Training (ADAPT). This presentation will illustrate the key benefits of government working with relevant peak bodies such as Arts Access Victoria in the creation of quality training and resources that build the capacity of the art sector to be inclusive of people with a disability. ADAPT will pose an exciting and innovative approach to thinking about art and how organisations can be more creative, dynamic, representative, challenging through inclusive arts practice. 

Day 1: Tues - Session 2

Artists: Art as a Profession

Duncan MeerdingDisclosing Disability or Dif-Ability? Experiences of a legally blind Designer/Maker

Duncan Meerding, TAS

This paper will outline Duncan’s experiences as a practising designer/maker since graduating from university and undertaking a mentorship at David Trubridge Studios in New Zealand. His paper will discuss the barriers he faced in accessing programs, as well as highlighting the path he has taken and how he has disclosed his blindness. In addition, he will relate his experiences to policy and broader strategies for tackling arts and accessibility.

Complex PTSD – Breaking the silence of the Fringe Dweller

Jacqueline King, NSW

Jacqueline King - What's in the detail?

This presentation will outline Jacqueline’s experience of Complex PTSD in regional Australia, its effects on her and the benefits of an arts practice and arts opportunities to the long term management of the condition. Her paper will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the management of Complex PTSD in a regional setting and an anecdotal account of how its impacts have shaped her own arts practice including the difficulties of grants submissions, proposals whilst in the grip of the illness.

Disability & Digital Publishing: Multimedia E-Books 

Robert Cettl, SA

This paper examines the online opportunities that greet authors, artists and filmmakers (with or without disability) given Australia’s entry into the e-book / digital publishing scene in late 2011 / 2012.  Robert provides a sequenced descriptive analysis of ebook publishing illustrated through PowerPoint, multimedia PDF and web content and offers a tour through the online digital publishing environment, the creation of product (including multi-media) and the distribution, exhibition and networking opportunities that currently exist for authors with disability in the online publishing environment.

Disability/Community Projects: Theatre
Blaze: Mixed Abilities Theatre in Wollongong

Anne-Louise Rentell, NSW and Michael Norris, NSW

The Blaze project is a new devised theatre work that has come out of a series of workshops that Merrigong Theatre Company has run since 2008 in collaboration with the lllawarra Disability Trust's Altogether Drama Group. The presentation will look at the work to date alongside video footage of the development process and interviews with the cast and creatives, in particular Rachel Murphy and Phillip Prentice, long-time members of the Altogether Drama Group.

Sons & Mothers: Desire to Destination

Dr PJ Rose, SA

Sons & Mothers is a 55-minute stage play written, devised and directed by Alirio Zavarce with six men who experience disability and performed by No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability (NSA) South Australia. The Producer of Sons & Mothers will present the development process of this community project from “desire” (how it began) to “destination” (award-winning production) via filmed highlights (5-min DVD), photos and discussion in a theatre session.


Sarah Sutherland and Rachel Edward, VIC

This presentation is a series of interwoven excerpts devised from Rollercoaster Theatre Company’s most recent sellout show, realeyes (Melbourne Fringe Festival, Chapel off Chapel, 2011), which is a portrayal of lives lived through the experience of disability. Rollercoaster is an eight member ensemble formed in 2006, when graduates of the Ignition Theatre training course, the only Australian accredited theatre making course for people with intellectual disability, discovered limited opportunities for employment and engagement with theatre. 

Venues: Technology
Accessible theatre performances with GoTheatrical technology

Alex French, SA

The Captioning Studio, winner of the 2011 Human Rights Award, has developed a range of new technologies that help venues and production companies to make live theatre performances accessible to millions of Australians who are deaf or hard of hearing or who are blind or low vision. The presentation will look at these technologies including The Captioning Studio’s world-leading GoTheatrical! technology, which uses inexpensive plasma or LCD screens for caption display.

Smart Technology: Revolutionising Museum and Arts Access

Hanna Bishop, QLD

Mainstream smart technology can now be leveraged to create incredible new access options for arts and education, which are inexpensive to introduce. An innovative service using smartphones by not-for-profit Australian Communication Exchange (ACE) ensures museums and tourist attractions are fully accessible to Deaf and hearing-impaired Australians and can also be adapted for the vision impaired. This presentation will include a practical demonstration of Smart Auslan.

Partnerships: International                                                                    
Flight Map for Inclusion

Khairani Barokka, Indonesia

Polyphonic: Many Voices, Many Styles

Rachel Gaffney Dawson, Arts Access Queensland

Access Arts Inc. Queensland presents the journey of Polyphonic: Many Voices Many Styles, an international visual arts exhibition showcasing the works of Australian artists with disability at the 11th Asia Pacific Wataboshi Festival in Bangkok, Thailand.  The presentation outlines the processes involved in collaborating with the Network of Music and Arts for Persons with Disabilities, (NMAD) an arts and disability organisation based in Thailand.


Day 1: Tues - Session 3  

Artists: Residencies

Bundanon: Arthur Boyd's Desire and Destination

Jim Birkett, NSW

Arthur Boyd grew up in a household destined for and committed to the arts. His father Merric Boyd struggled with epilepsy and depression. This presentation examines Boyd’s desire to gift Bundanon, his estate on the south coast of NSW to all Australians to be able to experience the arts and landscape. The Bundanon Trust has hosted various artists living with disability in its residency programs but also enables other people with disability to have access to quality arts education experiences through its Outreach arts programs.

Don Mortiss, Jeff Usher, Don Mortiss, Mike SmithRewriting the Score – World music-ability

Graham Sattler, NSW

This paper outlines the process, findings and implications of a six-day creative world music residency Rewriting the Score project, which took place in November 2011 at the Orange Regional Conservatorium, a community Music Education organisation in Western NSW.  The project involved 13 professional Australian musicians, eight of whom are living with a mild to moderate (physical and/or intellectual) disability. The project demonstrates one arts organisation’s approach to realising its desire to be accessible, adding a dimension to an already incipient inclusive arts/disabiity destination.

The National Braille Music Camp: Building Foundations for Desires and Destinations

Roma Dix, co-founder and coordinator of the National Braille Music Camp

In July every year since 1986, blind music students from around Australia and New Zealand have travelled to Mittagong to attend the National Braille Music Camp.  In one week they produce a concert including a number of pieces in four-part harmony, an orchestra, a band, and many individual performances, all learned through Braille music.  This talk will describe how the camp is organised, what happens during the week as well as the camp’s development and success.

Disability/Community Projects: Disability-Led Projects
Summer Workshop - SOS and the Aspie AllianceElectronic Tribes - SOS West and the Aspie Alliance 

Akash Temple, VIC and Fiona Cook, Arts Access Victoria

This presentation will look at a music and multimedia project for young people with Aspergers or an Acquired Brain injury, Electronic Tribes - the SOS and Aspie Alliance, and the successful partnerships, relationships and outcomes that resulted. Based in the outer western area of Melbourne, this project was led by Akash Temple who is an experienced musician, performer, multimedia artist and film maker and lives with both Aspergers and an Acquired Brain injury. 

The Deaf Arts Access Project

Naomi Malone, NSW

The Deaf Arts Access Project (DAAP) aims to examine past and current experiences of inclusive and accessible practices in the arts for people who are deaf, and their dreams of more accessibility and inclusion in the arts. Furthermore, DAAP aims to discover the destinations that will realise these dreams.

Venues: A Fully Accessible Art Space
Nebula – A revolution in inclusive design

Caroline Moore, and Rhian Hinkley, Arts Access Victoria

This workshop presentation will engage delegates in the process and philosophy behind the development of Nebula, a fully accessible mobile arts space created with the needs of artists with a disability at the centre of its design. By placing the needs and intentions of the artists at the centre of its function, Nebula can be transformed into a gallery, workshop / seminar space or performing arts venue. The aim of the workshop is to explore the potential of the Nebula project and how we can work together to maximise the potential of the project and what opprotunities it offers for artists with a disability.

Partnerships: Youth
Bodylines Ensemble, Shopfront.Making Youth Arts A Desirable Destination

Sarah Emery and Margot Politis, Shopfront Contemporary Arts and Performance, Jim Lawson, Young People and the Arts Australia, and Elizabeth Hill, Accessible Arts

This workshop and presentation looks at best practice methods of engaging young people with disability in the arts. The presentation aims to bring together lessons from a range of youth arts organisations engaged in inclusive practice and also showcases the work of the Shopfront Theatre’s Bodylines Ensemble of young people with and without disability.

Day 2: Weds - Session 4   

Artists: Disclosure

Disclosure: My only Destination

Darren Green, NSW

This performance based paper will outline Darren's personal experience of the effects of mental illness and the onset of psychosis on his practice and reputation, after a successful career. This performance art work questions disclosure as a destination and the empowerment and opportunities it might hold as a means for a practitioner to have a future. As an advocate for accessible arts, Darren shares his journey of becoming aware of his own disability and how disclosure may be his chance of finding desire and a life in the arts again. 

Keith Rutherford, NSW

Keith will talk about his journey as an artist and how disclosure of visual impairment, or not, has affected that journey.

Gayle Kennedy, 

Young Performers: The Journey So Far
My Life My Way My Desire

Emma Norton, VIC

Emma began to lose confidence in herself in her late teens. She did not know what she wanted to do with her life and she did not want to accept help. Then Emma joined a newly established theatre group, BoilOver, which enabled her to pull her life together, find and pursue a dream. Emma’s presentation will prove that having a desire can lead to your destination.

Our Growing Desire

Thomas Banks, VIC

With a growing desire for a stronger disability and arts culture in Australia, there is a strong focus on accessibility in the arts as an issue in the sector. Producers and arts organisations across the country want to be inclusive and make the arts accessible for everyone, but how do we actually make this happen? As a professional speaker in Australia, Thomas works with communities on every level about disability access, inclusive communities, sexual diversity and social practice. His presentation will share this experience.

Tara Coughlin at Catalyst Masterclass 2012Breaking Free

Tara CoughlinSuzanne Whiteman and Adam Rijks, NSW

This presentation is made up of two Contemporary Dance Performances performed by Tara Coughlan, a teenage dancer from Ballina with Down Syndrome. The presentation will be accompanied by original choreography and music from a Northern Rivers band comprised of people with disability, self-titled The Last Path. Between the dance items there will be discussions with collaborators and artists, plus discussion with Tara after her performances. 

Day 2: Weds - Session 5  

Artists: Compromises and Considerations

Global Travel Beyond the Social Model

Kath Duncan, VIC and Gaelle Mellis, SA

Kath Duncan, congenital amputee and self-professed one-woman travelling freak show, has spent the past 10 years roaming the globe as a guest at a number of disability and disability arts events in the UK, the US, Asia and Australia.  Gaelle Mellis proudly defines herself as an artist with disability and is passionate about cultural accessibility and diversity. As a theatre designer and collaborator in Australia and overseas for over 25 years, her designs, and commitment to disability arts, have taken her to the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and the United States.  Kath and Gaelle offer tips for the traveller on the balancing acts required for successful “crip” junketing. 

Disability/Community Projects: Person centred Programmes
Photograph from the “Circumspecto” Sydney Opera House 2012 Can You See Me Theatre Company Can You See Me

Kylie Harris, NSW and Christine Koitai, NSW

‘Can You See Me’ theatre troupe, an initiative of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, represents performers with a diverse range of physical support needs: mobility, communication and expression expansion. They perform two sections of their Sydney Opera House show ‘Circumspecto’ with a Q&A.  This innovative show has been co-created by individuals whose desire is to be appreciated for their talent, artistic merit and recognised as professionals.

Person-centred artistic journey – Action through art

Ben KeytePeter DalrympleGretta Serov and Shirley Wong, NSW

SHINE, an arts showcase which was initiated, developed, driven and presented by four young adults with moderate to severe physical disability, will demonstrate individual and collective talents through the mediums of photography, sculpture, song and film.  This initiative also demonstrates how person-centred approaches provides both individual and collective expression to result in a sense of empowerment and ownership. This presentation will be supported with videos from the event, footage from the night and sample artworks.

The steps on facilitating a person-centred art workshop

Gaye Fleming, NSW

This presentation will demonstrate the steps required to develop and create a successful person-centred approach art workshop, as an accessible platform for people with or without a disability to access the arts.  A 12-minute DVD showcases a group of 16 people with a disability, staff and emerging artists working collaboratively working together to create a sculpture with desired community outcomes. Situated in the Sunnyfield Parramatta Day Option Program, this project was part of the Parramatta Council Our Art project 2011.

Venues: Employment

Sue Roff, VIC

Behind the scenes: Developing inclusive workplace opportunities

Jenny Spinak, Sydney Opera House

Recent initiatives aimed at creating workplace opportunities for people with disability at Sydney Opera House, including the Stepping Into internship and Paralympic Diversity Workplace Program will be explored in this presentation.

Art Works: Key findings from national research into arts employment for people with disability

Andrea Lewis and Natalie Georgeff, DADA WA

DADAA, in partnership with Arts AccessAustralia, undertook a quantitative and qualitative research project in 2012 into arts employment for people with disability. The goal of the research was to determine a current snapshot of employment for people with disability in the arts and cultural sector. Some results and implications of findings from this from this research will be explored including levels of arts involvement and type of work undertaken, pros and cons of volunteering, recruitment and declaring a disability and the common barriers looking for and finding arts employment.

Partnerships: Local Collaborations
Site Unseen: This is our journey to the centre of our worth

Cathy Horsley and Robyn Szechtman, VIC

Site UnSeen, one of the most talked about shows in the 2011 Melbourne Festival, was a large scale community cultural development project made in collaboration with people who are, or have recently been, homeless and many of whom live with a disability. The presentation will look at the background to the project, the live theatre event that came out of it and an audience-participation activity highlighting the basics of surviving a night on the street.

Alison Richardson, Gerard O’Dwyer and participants of Beyond the Square’s programs, NSW

'Close to Me' a journey in music and movement

Jenine Mackay, Arts Access Central Australia

This 2011 performance project is a culmination of over six years of grass roots activities by InCite Youth Arts and Arts Access Central Australia (AACA). This original dance theatre production accessed the skills of nationally acclaimed artist Kat Worth and local artists, together with community performers, in a disability led process, collaborating to devise an original dance theatre work with over 60 performers with a disability aged 4 – 50 years. This seminal work was a significant project for Alice Springs that caught the attention of educators, parents, media and the general public. The concept of ‘ownership’ portrayed in the work is at the core of our inclusive, community arts and cultural development approach. 

Day 2: Weds - Session 6  

Artists: Unlimited UK

Push Me: 12 Unlimited Artists

Jo Verrent, UK

Push Me is an online digital project at, a multi-platform space created by the Arts Council England and the BBC. The 30-minute documentary focuses on the journeys of 12 disabled and deaf artists as they stretch beyond their personal bests to create work for the UK’s Cultural Olympiad.

This will be followed by presentations from the artists with disability from Australia who were supported by Access Arts Australia, The British Council for the Arts and Accessible Arts to travel to Unlimited UK.
David Baker, VIC, Janet Diane Chipparrone, NSW, Medina Sumovic, VIC and Sancha Donald, NSW.

Disability/Community Projects: Models of Inclusion
I want to be a pianist

Dr Jeongmin Park, NSW

This presentation is an account of six young musicians aged 6-18 with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), who are learning piano with various levels of achievement. They are not musical savants but music lovers. The way to fulfill their musical desire and potential will be discussed through their learning process.

The Value of the Volunteering Artist

Leone Harris, NSW and Heidi Mecklam, NSW

This presentation looks at the unique and fostering relationship between an artist with a disability and the artist volunteer. It considers the desirable outcomes of the experience for both the artist with a disability, the volunteer and the arts organisation and also looks at the relationship from an organisational perspective and how it impacts on the arts and disability program. 

This is not what it appears

Kerrie Divett, NSW and Zeb Schulz, NSW

This is Not What it Seems has come out of collaboration between Northern Rivers based artists professional and emerging artists with and without disability to create audio and visual work. The project evolved from connections made at a disability and arts forum initiated by Arts Northern Rivers CEO Tony Duke in 2010 in conjunction with RED Inc and RealArtWorks Inc. The forum bought together professional and emerging artists with disability and the artworkers and organisations that support them and this presentation shares the process which lead to the exhibition/installation that resulted at Lismore Regional Gallery.

Venues: Inclusive Practice
The Seven-Year Itch, Frankston Arts Centre

Tim Dakin, VIC

Tim Dakin will look at the seven-year journey of Frankston Arts Centre’s Arts Access program in a live-captioned, visual and verbal presentation of inclusivity. He will discuss the unique approaches to funding and sponsorship, planning, programming partnerships, community engagement and participation that led to recognition as a leader in arts access and inclusion.

Julie Baird, Deputy Director, Newcastle Museum

This presentation will be a truthful overview of how Newcastle museum tackled accessibility in a holistic way and the outcomes, good, bad and ugly.

Rarely Seen

Martin Sawtell, Project Officer, Disability and Arts Transition Team SA

In the recent exhibition of work by vision-impaired photographers titled 'Rarely Seen', the Disability and Arts Transition Team, guided by Australian designer and recipient of a 2012 Australia Council for the Arts Creative Australia fellowship, Gaelle Mellis, created an exhibition that could be seen and heard through an innovative use of accessible aesthetics to create an exhibition greater than the sum of its parts. DATT Project Officer Martin Sawtell will discuss the exhibition and the project that led to it.


Partnerships: Disability services and the local community
True Colours

Susan Hatswell, NSW and Sally Herron, NSW

True Colours is a collaborative art project between Greystanes Disability Services, which provides service to clients with exceptionally high support needs and Year 9 students of Blue Mountains Grammar School. The presentation explores the purpose, process and outcomes of the project and how attitudes were shaped and changed through art. The presentation also explores the future and outlines how others could implement their own projects.

Studio Aperio – Dream to reality

Leanne Juratowich-Guenther, President of Studio Aperio Inc and Julie Barratt, Accessible Arts NSW

Studio Aperio is an integrated dance school based in Murwillumbah in the Northern Rivers. It is the first dance school of its kind in Regional NSW. Leanne and Julie will talk about the journey that began with one woman’s dream for her son and how a community helped to turn that dream into a reality and ultimately supports the very community that fostered its inception.

Fairlie Sandilands


Further information

For more information contact Amanda Tink, Conference Convenor, Accessible Arts, tel: +61 2 9251 6499 ext 106 or