Code of Practice Revision - Disability Focus Group

February 2022

The Disability Focus Group met at the end of February. The meeting was again facilitated by Canberra based artist and disability activist Daniel Savage and included six artists and arts workers with disability. 

The group discussed the content of the revised Code of Practice regarding residencies and studio programs. The meeting included discussion on:

  • Accessibility information that host organisations could be providing.
  • The need for more time - to apply, to be able to scout the venue, for planning and for outcomes.
  • The need for artists and host organisations to be able to negotiate access, expectations, outcomes.
  • The need for expectations and requirements that a host organisation might have to be a discussion rather than a rigid requirement.
  • Funding considerations such as who pays for access requirements.
  • The ethical considerations of using a building such as a heritage building that will not be accessible to a wide range of people.

October 2021

The Disability Focus Group met for the fourth time in October. The meeting was facilitated by Canberra based disability activist and artist Daniel Savage and included seven artists and arts workers with disability.

The group discussed the content of the revised Code of Practice regarding awards, prizes and competitions. The meeting included discussion on:

  • Barriers that artists experience when applying for awards and prizes including financial and structural barriers.
  • Different application processes and formats that would make awards and prizes more accessible.
  • Ways to provide financial support to artists when entry fees are a barrier.
  • Removing structural barriers such as short deadlines.
  • Achieving  accessibility in award and prize exhibitions.

The focus group will continue to meet in 2022 to further advise on the Code of Practice revision and NAVA's advocacy work.

September 2021

Accessibility Open Consultation

A group of 12 artists and arts workers met in September to discuss the topic of accessibility in the Code of Practice and how the Code of Practice can be accessible for a range of audiences. The consultation was facilitated by Daniel Savage.

This group further expanded on the ideas and discussion points that have been raised by the Accessibility Focus Group. The group raised some ideas for making the Code of Practice more accessible such as using illustrations, audio and easy read formats, as well as breaking the Code of Practice down into smaller, easier to understand parts. The group agreed that the text should pose questions rather than listing specific actions or advice in order to be more relevant in a wide range of situations.

The group also discussed industry issues in relation to accessibility and working with artists with disability. This included:

  • Capacity and resourcing within arts organisations.
  • Artists with disability providing unpaid advice to organisations.
  • The role that support people play in artist careers.
  • Time structures and deadlines placing pressure on artists to deliver to unrealistic deadlines.
  • The additional costs that artists with disability often incur.
  • How access to and receipt of NDIS and government support payments affect the way artists with disability work.

Further consultation is needed in regard to the effect of NDIS support and government support payments on the way artists work.

August 2021

The Disability Focus Group met for the third time in August and included seven artists and arts workers with disability. The meeting was facilitated by Daniel Savage.

The group discussed the content of the revised Code of Practice in regard to specific topic areas and how accessibility applies to these individual topics. The topics covered were exhibiting, selling work, and commissioning and funding.

The meeting included discussion on:

  • Clarity around the expectations artists and audiences should have for organisation accessibility and artwork accessibility.
  • Whether there should be a basic requirement that everyone meets in terms of access.
  • Where responsibility lies in terms of making an exhibition or artwork accessible and sharing this responsibility between the exhibiting organisation and the artist.
  • How to navigate artworks that might not be accessible.
  • Legitimising accessibility costs and factoring these into budgets.
  • Requiring accessibility costs in funding application budgets.
  • Having separate funding pools for accessibility for artists with disability applying for funding.

June 2021

The Disability Focus Group met for the second time in June and included eight artists and arts workers with disability. The meeting was facilitated by Daniel Savage. 

The group discussed the content of the revised Code of Practice in regard to information about accessibility. It was resolved that the Code of Practice would include a statement and general information about access and provide a disability arts framing in the Principles, Ethics and Rights section of the Code, as well as include more specific information and strategies throughout all other sections of the Code where applicable. It was suggested that this information could be presented as a set of questions or provocations for the reader rather than being prescriptive in detail. The group also discussed the kind of language that the Code would use, focusing on strengths based language rather than deficit based.

It was highlighted that the Code should focus on information about the working relationship between artists with disability and organisations rather than organisations working with audiences with disability, as there is already information on this topic available elsewhere. Group members also discussed different ways of working and perspectives on time, and the benefits of integrating these into the working relationships between artists and organisations.

April 2021

The first Disability Focus Group meeting was held on 12 April and included eight artists and arts workers with disability. The meeting was facilitated by Daniel Savage. 

The group discussed the accessibility of the Code of Practice in regard to how information could be accessed and presented. This included discussing the language that the Code uses, universal design, how information could be simplified, additional resources such as videos, animations, case studies and Auslan videos, referral to other organisations and sharing with their communities. Participants discussed the need to communicate how the Code can assist artists, why it is important, and the need to have information on how to navigate and use the Code. They also discussed framing the Code from a human rights perspective and a need to identify what access and inclusion mean.

As part of the first Disability Focus Group meeting for the Code of Practice, feedback was provided on the website including the need for adaptive tools such as the ability to change the font size, contrast, colours, use text to voice. It was noted that these accessibility settings should be available across the entire website and accessibility options should be readily available on a website. Participants agreed that there should be no barrier to accessing the Code as this can make access difficult while also making people feel excluded.