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Introduction

This section will cover how production of art projects can be made more accessible. Accessible production has a number of priorities including slower, extended schedules, flexible deadlines and outcomes, and the centering of the access, health and wellbeing of those involved. This can include slow production and working with support workers to produce projects.

Slow Production

Slow production acknowledges that some people need more time to work. This may be for a number of reasons including disability, illness, parenting, pregnancy, transition, care work, grief, unstable housing, living situation or burn out. In approaching production in a slower, more flexible, adaptive way, working becomes more manageable for everyone involved. There are a number of ways you can work towards slower production schedules:

  • Planning ahead; building in longer production schedules, beginning work with artists with sufficient time to produce that work.
  • Flexibility with deadlines and outcomes; unexpected events can happen and flexibility about when and what is produced is advisable. Unrealistic expectations are often placed on artists and by reassessing what is expected, can make working more accessible.
  • Pay artists and workers adequately for the work that is being asked of them.
  • Request additional fees from the access budget in arts council project awards to pay for additional time required to work in an accessible manner.
  • Communicate with funders; funders are often responsive to re-working schedules and appreciate open and clear communication about what the challenges are and what is being done to address them.

Support Workers

In addition to slower production schedules, some artists and artworkers require a support worker. A support worker is someone who supports disabled people’s access work or care, and reduces access barriers. Many disabled artists and artworkers already rely on unpaid support work from friends, partners and family, and would benefit from official paid support work.

When working with an artist, a support worker can support with:

  • Artistic tasks, such as making the artwork.
  • Manual tasks, such as lifting, packing and moving.
  • Administrative tasks and communication, including emails.
  • Joining meetings and taking notes.
  • Transportation and mobility.
  • Care needs.

When working with a curator, producer or arts administrator, a support worker can support with:

  • Support during project install.
  • Administrative tasks and communication, including emails.
  • Organising meetings, and taking notes.
  • Transportation and mobility.
  • Care needs.

Hiring a support worker can be financed in a number of ways:

  • Costs can be included in production budgets, including the access budget in arts council grants.
  • A support worker can also be hired through state funded welfare schemes. In the UK, you can apply via GOV.UK Access to Work Scheme. It may take a number of months for an application to be processed, so it is important to plan ahead.

Communication

Communication is key to creating an accessible relationship with artists and the team during production periods. Everyone has their preferred method of communicating, with different forms of communication accessible for different people. You can request communication preferences in the access rider at the beginning of the working relationship. This may change throughout the different stages of work but acknowledging how communication can reduce or create access barriers for people is essential. Here are some alternative options to standard email and phonecalls you can communicate through:

  • Voice Notes.
  • Online Meetings.
  • Messaging / Text.
  • Large Text email and/or Easy Read Documents.
  • Liaising through a support worker.

Some disabled people communicate differently, including taking longer to respond, tick, twitch or not maintaining eye contact. Assumptions shouldn’t be made and all communication styles should be accommodated and respected. People with learning and developmental disabilities may require slower and clearer speech, accommodating variations in response time or to be joined by a support worker. It is also advised to avoid use of overly technical language or jargon. d/Deaf or hard of hearing people may require sign language interpreters to join meetings or for online meetings to be captioned.