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Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

A good ally to disabled artists?

QUT researcher Bree Hadley has published an interesting article on her research in ArtsHub entitled: Am I a good ally to disabled artists?

She notes that despite policy reform and recognition of the need for improved representation for disabled artists, little system wide change has resulted. She argues the need for “more scaffolded, sophisticated approaches to allyship … by which those who occupy positions of privilege support.”

Her article identifies “problematic behaviours” by art workers that are well known but discussed behind closed doors. These include:

  • the “optical” or “performative” ally, who will “like” a facebook campaign but does nothing to practically support

  • the “ally of convenience”, who expresses a desire to empower the disabled but denies financial credit and moves on when funding opportunities shift

  • the “pseudo” ally – who gaslights those they claim to empower.

Bree explains: “In an industry reliant on relationships, dealing with problematic behaviours is difficult for any artist. It is more difficult for disabled and otherwise diverse artists, who deal with barriers to employment beyond those faced by their peers. A starting point for any would-be ally, then, might be to take up burden of beginning the conversation about better allyship – and the self-reflective process that comes of it – themselves. By asking the question: am I a good ally? Though challenging, asking this question that has the potential to be transformative, for the individual, and for the industry as a whole.”

Bree’s article can be accessed at:

Our thanks go to ArtsHub for their permission to quote.

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