Al. Di. Qua: a video manifesto demanding recognition of disabled artists

Europe Beyond Access supports the dissemination of Al. Di. Qua.’s video manifesto, as part of the project’s role advocating for change in the cultural sector.

Al. Di. Qua. is an Italian association formed of leading disabled artists, with the aim of advocating for the cultural rights of disabled artists and cultural workers, as well as the aim of transforming the way disabled people are framed in the mainstream media and public imagination.

Bringing together the voices of both established and emerging disabled artists from across Italy, the group premiered their video manifesto in Rome cinemas, on 23 March 2022. This audio-visual demand for the autonomy and rights of disabled people in the cultural sector is based in a previous written manifesto, launched in December 2020.

  • The video including subtitles in different languages can be found here.
  • A transcription of the English translation of the film can be found at the end of this page.

Change starts with us

What makes people disabled? Is it medical impairment or society’s refusal to change?

Won’t all of us be disabled at some point of our lives?

Why are disabled people so often the subject of artistic activities (films, theatre, dance, visual arts) but so rarely the authors of those works?

And why are so few disabled people in decision-making decisions in the Arts, and in society?

These are just some of the questions posed by Al.Di.Qua

This powerful manifesto urges us all to confront how we evaluate our skills and competencies, and to start locating disabling experiences at the centre of public debate.

Are you ready for Al.Di.Qua?

Learn more and take action

Association Al. Di. Qua. is collaborating with Oriente Occidente Dance Festival on PRESENTI ACCESSIBILI – the first major all-Italy conference on Arts & Disability taking place 27-29 April 2022.

The initiative led by Oriente Occidente, the Italian Ministry of Culture and Region Lombardy within the context of Europe Beyond Access will include a wide range of workshops, meetings and events.

The Conference activity on 29 April will be livestreamed in English to allow international participation. You can find more information about PRESENTI ACCESSIBILI full programme of activities here.

Video transcription

Hello, how are you?

We are fine today because we’ve finally decided to talk to you.

And we’re doing it from very close by, from here, now.

We are artists and workers in the field of the performing arts, united in being proud bearers of disabled bodies.

Don’t ask yourself what disability is, that’s the wrong question!

Ask yourself instead, what makes us disabled?

What makes you disabled?

Our bodies aren’t the problem, nor our physical, motor, sensory, neurological or cognitive skills.

We can no longer accept that our bodies, our stories and our changing identities are reduced to a single convenient medical-scientific term.

We are not talking about disabilities, but about Disabling Experiences imposed by a society built on a model that only benefits the Western, male, white, able, healthy, cisgender and straight human being.

We are talking about how society has created a scale of evaluation of skills, and then selected the bodies and lifestyles that are entitled to inhabit the world, reducing the others to mere specifications, relegated to the peripheries.

Specific environments have been built for us. Confined spaces in which, we are told, we could be fine.

But what about you?

Do you think we’re satisfied with your designated spaces?

Have you ever asked us if we want those “inclusive projects”?

Can you notice the difference between you granting access to spaces you control and the creation of spaces of autonomy?

We have been told that our experience of marginalization is different from other minority experiences.

We were taught to say ‘Excuse me, Thank you, Sorry’.

We were told not to make demands.

We have always been discussed by the non-disabled.

“The others” do experiments on our bodies, create visions, write narratives and draw inspiration.

What about you – are you sure you’ll be non-disabled forever?

Are you sure the people next to you are non-disabled?

Are you sure you could recognise disability just by looking at someone’s face?

Are you sure that a person with a hidden impairment would not hesitate in revealing their personal experiences? Why?

Are you sure that this person would not suffer professional discrimination?

Are you sure that, when your own abilities begin to dwindle – and I assure you that it will happen – you will be ready to give up working? 

Would you be ready to delegate control over your own life and ambitions to others?

If you look around you, how many disabled people do you see in leadership, decision making and powerful positions?

What is the difference between making a voice heard and appropriating that voice?

Stella Young, an Australian playwright, journalist and disabled activist who died in 2014 was renowned for saying: “I’m not your inspiration”.

We now repeat it.

We multiply it.

We amplify it.

“We are not your inspirations.”

We’re not here FOR YOU. We are here FOR US.

To take the space we were never given.

To speak out.

To set a precedent for those who will come after us.

To shape you.

To shape ourselves.

To stop being exceptions.

Are you sure you are ready for us?

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