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Thursday Scratch Nights

Art as Advocacy: A Model of Inclusive Curatorship


Art as Advocacy: A Model of Inclusive Curatorship

Thursday 24 August / 6pm / Free

A British Sign Language interpreter will be present at this event


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As part of Milton Keynes Disability Awareness Day, Jade French will be talking through her PhD titled Art as Advocacy. A study exploring the potential for participatory curatorial practice by people with learning disabilities to act a site for self-advocacy.

Over the past twenty years within the UK, the concept of self-advocacy has gained momentum by enabling people with learning disabilities to speak out in order to affect change, with inclusive research emerging as result. In the same period inclusive arts practice has developed, reflecting a growing recognition of people with learning disabilities as artists, performers and communicators, yet curation has only rarely been used as an inclusive practice and then principally in museums dealing with history rather than arts contexts.


In 2017 Jade French completed a PhD titled Art as Advocacy in order to address this gap. This study explored the potential for participatory curatorial practice by people with learning disabilities to act a site for self-advocacy. It considered how and in what ways curatorship can be effective political act for this group, examining the potential links between self-expression and political collectivism. As this study was practice-led, it brought together learning disabled members of self-advocacy group Halton Speak Out with members of Bluecoat’s inclusive arts projects Blue Room to curate an exhibition. These curators developed an exhibition theme, collaborated with artists, commissioned new artwork via an Arts Council England Grant, directed the install and designed accessible interpretation for audiences. The result was Auto Agents, a visual arts exhibition which opened to the public on 26 November 2016 to 15 January 2017 at Bluecoat which then went on to be displayed at the Brindley’s gallery in Halton between 4 March and 15 April 2017.

Ultimately it is intended that this research will contribute to a greater understanding of curatorial practice as a political act, broader expressions of ‘speaking out’ by people with learning disabilities and of accessible models of curatorship. Jade will be talking through a case study of this project, illuminating the approaches and sharing findings.




Arts for Health


August 2017


What are Scratch Nights?

Happening every Thursday evening at the Gallery, Scratch Nights are a series of events by emerging local and national practitioners working in music/sound, film, expanded cinema, performance and spoken word.


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