Most challenging of all were the questions from the floor. It made me realise how little is understood of disabled people’s lived experience.
We should be flattered that some think we would have made our mark without the award. The fragments I’ve heard of the different artist’s stories suggests that we all needed this re-alignment in our lives hugely. Yes, some of us are high achievers but at a huge cost to our bodies and often with a massive amount of down playing of our physical and emotional needs.
Whether the issue was self belief, skills development, money, exposure or some creative hand holding, it has been essential as process to bring us to the point where our work is seen by a wider audience. Nine disabled artists have found their voices. I know many of us are committed to helping those who come after us on the scheme do the same.
My voice would have been heard for sure, but in a minor key. This award gave me the financial backing to test whether I was ready to take the next step. To sing the song only I know the words to.
With disabilities I battle constantly with the assumption that I am an object of care not a participant in the rich, diversity of life. I’ve never spent time with many disabled people before this award except as a chaplain and vicar. The days with other disabled people are precious and life affirming. They have settled my identity and that has given me confidence and determination.