This year, the theme of Disability History Month is disability and art, focusing on both the work of disabled artists and portrayals of disabled people: currently, through the lens of the social model, and through history, reflecting shifting attitudes to disability.
The National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA) is currently putting the finishing touches to a digital repository of its items.
Items being ‘digitised’ include NDACA’s series of protest t-shirts worn by disabled activists and artists in the 1980s and 1990s when they took their fight for equal rights and access to the streets of Westminster.
Other items include artwork by the late disabled artist Adam Reynolds, transcripts from forums and debates, and costumes from the BBC actress Liz Carr.
The overall NDACA project, overseen by disability arts organisation Shape Arts, will bring together more than 2000 objects celebrating the history of the Disability Arts Movement on a brand-new website, a series of oral history films, interactive learning resources, and the uniquely accessible research facilities at Buckinghamshire New University.
Bucks New University and Shape Arts collaborate on disability arts project
The National Disability Arts Collection & Archive (NDACA) is to be hosted at Buckinghamshire New University
The £1 million project will be delivered by the disability arts organisation Shape Arts and bring together 2,500 objects celebrating the history of the disability arts movement.
As part of a range of activities nationwide, Bucks New University will host a learning wing of NDACA’s digital and physical items in the Library at its campus in Queen Alexandra Road, High Wycombe.
Visit the NDACA website for more information (link will open in a new browser window)
Professor Tim Middleton, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University, said:
“Bucks New University is delighted to be a partner in the NDACA project with the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
“As a University with a commitment to equality and diversity and social justice we are delighted to be hosting the NDACA wing and archive which showcases the rich creative work of artist and activists.
“We are working with NDACA to develop the space and look forward to its opening in 2018 which we will celebrate with a conference and workshops.”
The project will also see NDACA deliver a multi-media website and catalogue, a series of films, and live events.
Disability arts celebrate social progress
The disability arts movement began in the UK in the late 1970s and continues to the present day. It is the heritage story of a group of disabled people and their allies who broke barriers, helped change the law and made great art and culture along that journey.
Shown above right, a portrait of prominent rights activist Baroness Campbell by Tanya Raabe Webber.
“I am incredibly excited to see the development of the NDACA Wing for Learning at Bucks New University.
“NDACA will offer the students a range of assets for them to engage with our heritage – a story of how disabled people and their allies changed Britain and made great culture about that time.”
NDACA has visited the University to showcase the project and illustrate how it is digitising the archive. It is also working with BA (Hons) Interior and Spatial Design student Klaudia Sawicka on designs for the wing of physical items.
“I have really enjoyed the project. I have looked to create a friendly space for people to use and the work has helped me to gain a wider perspective and understand the problems in our communities.”
The project is also supported by Arts Council England and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
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