Arts and disability in Scotland

Jori Kerremans (Scottish Dance Theatre), Claire Cunningham (artist), Maggie Maxwell (Creative Scotland), Caroline Bowditch (artist) and Robert Softley (artist) uncover the infrastructure that has helped nurture Scottish artists to mainstream international success.

One of a series of five short films, capturing the thoughts and experiences of key people from the arts sector and exploring the framework that is enabling UK disabled artists to flourish.

Arts and disability in Scotland

Jori Kerremans (Scottish Dance Theatre), Claire Cunningham (artist), Maggie Maxwell (Creative Scotland), Caroline Bowditch (artist) and Robert Softley (artist) uncover the infrastructure that has helped nurture Scottish artists to mainstream international success.

One of a series of five short films, capturing the thoughts and experiences of key people from the arts sector and exploring the framework that is enabling UK disabled artists to flourish.

A film commissioned by the British Council.

Below is a full transcript of the film. You can also download the complete transcript for this film as a PDF.

Jori Kerremans

Scotland is doing something really beautiful.

The amount of effort and the funding and everything has been put into it. You don't see that anywhere else in the world.

Claire Cunningham

In this country, we have been able to develop artists to a really high standard and there has been an understanding of the support that that requires and the investment and things like how the political perspective towards disability has shifted that as well. 

Maggie Maxwell 

2003 we had an international conference about arts and disability in Scotland.

That was a real catalyst.

So many of our funding organisations attended that and were challenged to go back and to start thinking about how their organisations could be much more inclusive and address the issues that disabled artists might face.

Jori Kerremans

Every company should say, "We want an accessible venue."

Even if you don't present integrated work you need to be able to host people to just come and watch your show.

We had a position created for Caroline Bowditch and she was our Dance Agent for Change and she was the person that started the ball rolling and she saw that there was a lot of questions and a, and not a lot of answers.

Maggie Maxwell

She went in there and she challenged the companies, challenged the aesthetic, challenged the education programme, helped develop the audiences for, for this work.

She was absolutely instrumental there and, and affected then the building and the access and the way of working.

Caroline Bowditch

I started to think about myself a bit as this mosquito that was buzzing in the ear of the arts industry in Scotland but also further afield so the reach was much greater than I think we'd ever anticipated.

Maggie Maxwell

The support that we gave um, to, to artists has attracted other artists to come and stay in Scotland so we now have a little um, gang of very successful international disabled artists in, in Scotland because the support is here, the infrastructure is here.

Robert Softley-Gale was also an Agent for Change. 

Robert Softley Gale

I want to make this work as accessible as possible but I want to do that in a way that make the work better for everyone and that's quite a,  a crucial starting point.

Caroline Bowditch

What I've seen happen in Scotland in terms of it being a creative hub is it's become a really attractive place to be a successful disabled artist. 

Maggie Maxwell

The Scottish Government were very supportive from 2003 onwards.

There's been many pieces of, of legislation relating to the equalities and to disability in particular and all these pieces of legislation were brought together into one Act in 2010 called The Equality Act.

There was over 116 pieces of legislation brought together into one comprehensive Act. 

Claire Cunningham

The fact that we are a small country there is the possibility for much more personal relationships with funders, with producers and have those bodies be aware of your work because it's not like London where there's 400 shows going on in one night and so it's allowed individuals to flourish here so it's taken a very different path. 

Caroline Bowditch

It feels less apologetic.

It's just this thing of we're gonna make this work and we're gonna put it out there, and actually, if it's good enough it will be taken up.