Disability Inclusion Planning Project

Children and adults playing together under large sheet
SUMMER REVEL, 2018. Image by Andrew Sikorski

In 2018, Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres (AGAC) received a Disability Inclusion Grant from the Office of Disability ACT.

This grant has enabled AGAC to initiate the Disability Inclusion Planning Project, the main aims of which are to create more inclusive and accessible arts centres for all visitors and increase disability awareness amongst AGAC staff and resident organisations.

Throughout the project, AGAC has been addressing barriers to access at all levels that currently prevent people with disabilities from being included in venues, programs, events and workshops. 

To assist in acquiring accurate information about the most important and pressing access needs of the centres, the project has formed a Disability Advisory Committee.  This committee comprises five practicing artists with lived experience of disability, and two arts workers with knowledge about access needs having worked with people with disability.  You can read more about the Disability Advisory Committee members below.

Ruth O’Brien

The project is being led by singer, songwriter, arts administrator and disability advocate, Ruth O’Brien. As a Canberra-born artist who identifies with having disability, Ruth has first-hand experiences to bring to the project around improving access and inclusion through all areas of the arts in Canberra. 

Ruth is the ACT Project Officer for Accessible Arts (www.aarts.net.au) and the Project Coordinator of the Youth Leadership Program for Women With Disabilities ACT (www.wwdact.org.au).  She sits on advisory committees for this year’s Meeting Place Conference run by Arts Access Australia (www.artsaccessaustralia.org) and for the National Portrait Gallery’s Accessibility Plan.  Ruth works as a solo artist under her own name and in acoustic duo, Miss Adventure.  She has also recently been appointed ACT’s Board Member for the National Live Music Awards. 

Hanna Cormick

Hanna Cormick is a performance artist with a background in physical theatre, dance, circus and interdisciplinary art. Her current practice is a reclamation of body through radical visibility.

Cormick is a graduate of Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq (Paris) and Charles Sturt University’s BA (Hons) in Acting. Her performance practice spans close to a hundred productions over twenty years, with works in Australia, Europe and Asia.

With both physical and immunological impairments, the access needs of my disability are complex and unusual, providing a unique access perspective, and new frames of reference for how to consider access beyond the more commonly accepted forms.

You can read more about Hanna here: artsaccessaustralia.org/art-spaces/hanna-cormick/

Daniel Savage

Daniel Savage is a Canberra based artist working primarily in photography, video and performance.

His practice is concerned broadly with perception – investigating the way our perceptions influence and affect our interactions with art, each other and the physical world.

His work is often self-referential, exploring his individual experience of disability as a point of difference to engage audiences in exploring and reassessing establish ideas and preconceptions that exist within society.

You can read more about Daniel and his work here: www.danielsavage.com.au

Cara Matthews

Cara Matthews is an actor, director, teacher and theatre-maker and identifies as having a disability. Cara lives with PTSD, anxiety and depression.

In her role as Creative Producer for Rebus, a mixed-ability theatre company using theatre for social change, Cara is often tasked with making events and programs as accessible as possible. Through this she has found that you don’t need to have a budget to make substantial change – there are often small things that can make the experience of a performance, art gallery, or music gig much better for people with a disability.

You can read more about Cara and Rebus Theatre here: www.rebustheatre.com/meet-the-team

Ceilidh Dalton

Ceilidh Dalton is a jewellery maker and metal artist.  Her art work is about environmental engagement in the local biodiversity and is inspired by our natural surroundings.

Ceilidh has a lived experience of a disability that excludes her from most art exhibitions and performances in the ACT. Campaigning for accessibility for herself has made Ceilidh more aware of other’s inclusion and access needs.  She is passionate about making the arts in Canberra more accessible.

You can read more about Ceilidh and her work here: www.ceilidhdaltonmetalartist.com

Genevieve Swifte

Genevieve Swifte is a contemporary artist with a PhD from the ANU School of Art and Design specialising in photography, feminist aesthetics and self-portraiture.

While Genevieve does not identify as having disability, she does have experience as a practicing artist who has worked with people with disability.  Genevieve has a great ability to communicate access needs that she’s observed within her life as an artist and member of the Canberra arts community.  She is also a member of the Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centre Board of Directors. 

You can read more about Genevieve and her work here: www.genevieveswifte.com

Imogen Clarke

Imogen is a fourth year Psychology student at ANU and a registered ABA (play) therapist for children on the Autism Spectrum. Disability has touched Imogen’s life through her work and studies.  She is passionate about disability inclusion, and is willing to contribute and discuss the barriers to art accessibility.

Imogen envisages tactile exhibitions where people with sensory issues can engage with the art through the sense of touch. Her experiences with ASD children has taught her the importance of touch experience. Sensory interaction isn’t a conventional approach to exhibiting art, thus would be an interesting technique for all people and all audiences, regardless of their disability.

Alec Hunter

Dr Alexander Hunter studied composition, double bass, viola da gamba and ethnomusicology at Northern Illinois University, and received a PhD in composition from Edinburgh Napier University. In 2014 he relocated to Canberra to take up a lecturing position at the Australian National University School of Music. Hunter has taught composition, theory and history, and founded the ANU Experimental Music Studio. His work as a composer is based on open works, which encourage a fluid relationship between composer, score and performer. Hunter identifies as a person with a disability and has joined this project to advocate for inclusion and accessibility.

You can read more about Alec here: http://music.cass.anu.edu.au/people/dr-alexander-hunter