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Collaboration & Inclusion

April 6, 2010

Last week was the start of our collaborative project with Cornerhouse. A project funded by Mediabox working with The Sancho Plan to produce an interactive, animated audio-visual installation, which will be showcased in one of Cornerhouse’s galleries.

As well as running our ‘own’ arts projects in the past we either advised arts organisations on including disabled people as participants or audiences or have been involved in steering groups or projects and programmes that were led by either the organisation or ourselves. Importantly it always seemed a ‘bolt on’ rather than real collaborative and importantly inclusive work.

This is almost a first in ‘true’ collaboration for Full Circle Arts.

Young person looking at a computer screen while working on the Interact Project

With & not For
So why did we chose this route.

Well, it was from listening and working with our community rather than working for them.

It is important for us at Full Circle to understand that just because we are a disabled led organisation, doesn’t mean we don’t have to listen and learn from what today’s young disabled people and disabled practitioners are telling us, are doing, are needing or wanting.

We learnt so much over 2 years doing our holistic Source 2 programme, which was firmly entrenched in the principles of inclusion. You can find a full evaluation here.

Disabled young people and disabled practitioners want to be included in the arts and creative opportunities that most of their peers take for granted. As one of our participants had said “I am still on the outside looking in, we fought long and hard for an end to special education, but if you want to be involved in the arts there is little that is inclusive about any development opportunities, you are expected to be segregated into ‘special arts’ but I ‘d rather be on the inside, involved, taking part in what my non disabled arts friends are involved in”.

Group of you people in a circle listening to a workshop leader from The Sancho Plan.

Inclusion is about ALL of us it’s about learning to live together, about creating & sharing tools, resources, capacities, it is a process not a product. So how do we at Full Circle work with what our ‘community’ wants? It can only be through meaningful collaboration, sharing creative experiences and diverse ways of learning, creating, watching, taking part or doing. Without judgment, taking risks, respecting each other and doing together.

So this project has been, from the very first thought or idea collaborative in its true sense, we worked together in the design, the how, the who, the where the when (it has to be said that Cornerhouse have done a huge amount of the admin work such as fundraising etc but even here they consulted and worked with us on every decision, every piece of work, written or otherwise, was put past us first from publicity, to funding, to press releases).

All that Jazz
Jazz
“Its tough to define, but I know it when I hear it.”
Miles Davis 1984

Inclusion and collaboration are like Jazz it is difficult to describe but you feel it when its there.
We started the project by working with a small number of young creative producers, who have led the project. They have learnt how to present, how to document, how to lead, how to get people working as a group, including deciding suitable inclusive warm up games for each session, which they led themselves.

Then last week the first group started work. (We are working with 2 groups of young disabled people and young refugees and asylum seekers).

a picture from the interact project showing white cartoon characters bunched up together with big eyes looking out at the viewer.

Hits and Fidgets

So we have all been learning; ourselves, Cornerhouse, the Sancho Plan and the young people, we’ve learnt different ways of animating, about Hits and Fidgets, cameras, interfaces, 2D and 3D, stop motion, lighting, software. We’ve learnt how to work together and we’ve had fun. We are still learning the different ways each of us can contribute. It’s exciting, the feedback is positive and every one of us are looking forward to the second part of the project in June and the public seeing, experiencing and interacting with our work when it is installed.

AND our young disabled participants, who had never visited Cornerhouse before, felt at home there, will visit again and would be eager to join in any participative opportunities Cornerhouse has to offer.

Inclusion is slow it’s never ‘finished’ as is collaboration. For us at Full Circle it’s about building bridges not towers. It’s about lighting small fires wherever we can rather than building a bonfire. It’s common sense, it’s respect, it’s listening and its us ALL working together collaboratively.

image showing young people looking at an animation being projected on to a wall.

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