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Representing the diversity of the UK – in all its forms – is a key consideration for the Edinburgh Showcase and all of our British Council programmes. We actively encourage BAME, Deaf and disabled artists from all four nations of the UK to apply to the Edinburgh Showcase. Ultimately, work is selected for its artistic quality, the relevance to audiences in the markets where we work and its potential to tour.
This year 10% of the applications we received were from BAME artists. BAME artists comprise 10% of the performance programme (Jo Fong, Project O, Ramesh Meyyappan), 19% of pitch sessions (Alesandra Seutin/Vocab Dance Company, BirdGang, Sheila Ghelani) and 20% of the trade fair (Avant Garde Dance Company/Tony Adigun, Rifco, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, Talawa Theatre Company).
We are committed to increasing the numbers of BAME artists in the Showcase and to that end we launched the Emerging Artists Development Programme this year. Working with Arts Council England and partners across England, we have identified 15 BAME artists whom we will be taking to Edinburgh to see work, develop networks, and gain a better understanding of the Fringe, the British Council Showcase and the type of work international promoters are looking for. We are also partnering with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society this year on their Emerging Producers Development Programme and through our networks have targeted Deaf, disabled and BAME producers to apply.
We look forward to receiving more applications from BAME artists in 2016 from which to curate an even more diverse programme for the 2017 Showcase.
I also think that the demise of decibel has had an impact on the take-up of 'diverse' artists. If the Arts Council's decibel showcase were still going I am convinced there would be much more uptake of a range of companies and artists who don't get a look in: not necessarily because of colonialist attitudes, but simply because they are not being seen by the necessary people.
I can’t speak for the British Council and their attitude to employing diverse artists on their programmes.
Historically the Disability Arts Movement has failed to attract artists from a more diverse ethnic backgrounds. It's something that we've thought about and talked about a lot within the Disability Arts sector - but have largely failed to act upon.
Aside from DaDaFest who have always looked to encourage and programme a diverse range of artists there has been little done to open the opportunities within the disability arts sector up. But equally we’ve seen the sector diminish enormously in the last 15 years, and with it the resources to take action have also lessened. Especially the number of disability arts fora, whose job it was to open disability arts up to people on the periphery.
We find ourselves more and more in a situation of working harder with much less capacity.
There are a number of diverse musicians who identify as disabled who've gained a reputation within the sector - I'm thinking specifically of people like Baluji Shrivastav, Clarence Adoo, Ziad Sinno, Baluji Shrivastrav and Hassan Eraji - but less so within performing arts or the visual arts.
To a large extent we have relied on artists to come forward to embrace disability arts; the opportunities have always been scarce and getting scarcer and many artists with impairments are reluctant to identify openly as ‘disabled’.
It only works if you are white. They do not have space for or give time to you if you are not able to continue the colonial myth
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