Portsmouth Evolve Symposium addresses disabilities in the arts

Aspex Gallery, the New Theatre Royal, and the Portsmouth Cultural Trust are launching the Evolve Symposium, a day-long event providing opportunities for artists and audiences with disabilities.

Throughout a one-year pilot project, funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the three local cultural organisations have been developing artistic opportunities, exhibitions, workshops, and residencies across their venues.

The symposium, which will take place at the New Theatre Royal on Tuesday 24th January, will discuss the use of language and labels within the arts, when working with people with SEN/D and on the autism spectrum. Confirmed speakers include:

Ruth Kapadia, Relationship Manager at Diversity of Arts Council England, will also be discussing the Arts Council’s approach to identity and labels when working with artists and audiences with disabilities, as well as the results of the recent ‘diversity in the arts workforce’ survey, relating to barriers to participation.

The day will also comprise of two performances from Blue Apple, a disability dance company from Winchester, and Drake Music, an organisation working in music, disability, and technology.

Vicky Chapter, Participation & Learning Manager at Aspex, said: “One of the biggest challenges we have faced throughout this project has been around the language we use and labels that we put on both ourselves and other we work with.

“This has led us to question how mainstream organisations can effectively support artists, improve accessibility for audiences, and embed diversity within our work without the use of labels.”

Tickets for the Evolve Symposium are now available for £20.00 from the New Theatre Royal box office. This includes lunch provided by the theatre’s in-house café partners, Watkins & Faux.

Tickets can also be booked through the New Theatre Royal website »

One of the day’s guests is Stopgap Dance Company, who previously worked with Portsmouth Festivities on an open-air work of dance theatre inspired by Portsmouth’s incredible boatbuilding heritage.

Professional and community dancers of all abilities came together with acclaimed alt-folk band The Moulettes to commemorate a history of amazing achievements, told through rousing dance and live music in a performance at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

As media partners with Portsmouth Festivities over the past few years, we were lucky enough to have the chance to document Stopgap’s rehearsals. Watch below, and see more of Team Locals Media’s video work on our media site »