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Leading disability arts advocate to speak at Arts Activated 2019 Conference

Leading disability arts advocate to speak at Arts Activated 2019 Conference
July 10, 2019

British artist Rachel Gadsden, one of the world’s leading disability arts advocates, is one of several high-profile international speakers at the upcoming Arts Activated 2019 Conference, Australia’s leading disability arts forum. 

Gadsden, who has just unveiled a major new work in Paris commissioned by FIFA for the 2019 Women’s World Cup, will be the opening plenary speaker at the conference which aims to help fast track the process of making arts and culture more accessible for the 20% of Australians who live with a disability or who are Deaf.   

Produced by Accessible Arts - NSW’s peak arts and disability organisation - the conference will take place at Sydney’s Waterview centre at Sydney Olympic Park from 22nd to 23rd August 2019 and will attract up to 200 artists, arts workers, disability advocates, researchers, policymakers and other experts from across the arts, cultural and disability sectors. 

The conference is being supported by the NSW Government (via Create NSW and Destination NSW) as well as a range of local government, corporate, community and media partners. Gadsen’s attendance is being supported by the British Council. 

Accessible Arts Chief Executive Kerry Comerford commented "wWhether you’re an artist or arts worker with disability, or you’re involved in arts administration, programming, infrastructure or policy, Arts Activated is an event that’s not to be missed. Participants will come away informed and connected in new and exciting ways that will help them develop careers, audiences and creative practice.”  

NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres added “I’m delighted to announce the NSW Government’s support of the Arts Activated 2019 Conference.

"The region is home to many artists with disability who are producing incredible work and the conference allows them to spotlight their practice and connect with other people in the disability arts sector.” 

Conference organisers have also announced the initial program for the event. The 22 sessions and events will include a range of thought-provoking plenaries, panel discussions, workshops and networking functions. 

Some of the topics to be considered include: authentic casting and representation; increasing participation in arts, culture and events by making programming and venues more accessible; boosting mainstream training opportunities for artists and arts workers with disability; reshaping the disability arts narrative; technology and design trends for universal access; and improving mainstream engagement with the work of artists with disability.

Gadsden is a visual artist, performance artist and artistic director who has been practicing for over 25 years. She creates both solo and collaborative art through, painting, performance, digital film and animation. Gadsden has been the first contemporary artist appointed to Hampton Court Palace; has undertaken four major commissions for the UK Parliament; and has completed major commissions for the four most recent Paralympic Games. She is exhibited internationally and has been involved in many key international arts events and festivals as both an artist and disability arts advocate. Her work explores themes of fragility and resilience, and is informed by a life-long lung condition called retinoschisis which requires a syringe driver to inject her with medication at one-minute intervals to keep her alive. She also has visual impairment.

Looking forward to her presentation, Gadsden commented “I'm passionate about creating art. My work explores the fragilities and hopes of the human condition and I am driven to create art that contributes to bringing about social and cultural change relating to disability globally.

"Through my role as a disabled artist, activist, and artistic director, I facilitate the means to increase artistic and cultural opportunities for people with disability. It's becoming an increasingly important objective to break down the barriers that prevent people with disabilities being included in mainstream arts." 

Registrations are available for artists, not-for-profits and other organisations, and extra discounts are available for organisations purchasing multiple registrations.

To register or find out more, go to the Australasian Leisure Management calendar listing at

Find out more about Rachel Gadsden at:

Images: Rachel Gadsden with her artwork 'True Passion' at the opening of the FIFA Women's World Cup Museum in Paris in June 2019 (top, courtesy of Michael Badorrek) and presenter at Arts Activated 2016 Conference (below, courtesy of Michael Badorrek).

Related Articles

3rd December 2018 - Sydney Festival launches first Disability Programming Initiative in Australia

24th September 2018 - Australia Council backs arts and disability with significant new funding

8th November 2016 - Perth International Arts Festival to host national forum on arts and disability

18th February 2016 - Creative Communities Scheme supports diverse arts projects

24th November 2015 - Australian landmarks to light up for International Day of People with Disability

1st October 2015 - NPEA blamed for postponement of major arts disability event

27th April 2015 - Australia Council invests in arts and disability leadership development

20th October 2008 - Arts and Disability Discussion Paper Released

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