Singaporean artist/director/producer/performing arts mentor and my collaborator for the last couple of years, Peter Sau, talks about disabled leadership in the Asia Performing Arts Exchange Project. Thank you, Peter. An honour and joy to work with you. You push for excellence and hard work, but you always work hard with heart! Just the way I like it!
some takeaways from Peter…
Can we stop talking about them, stop talking for them, and start to talk with them?
I’m just not yet disabled. (Commenting about age-ing and becoming disabled in old age.)
Why can’t we start to talk with people who know more than us?
We need a co-creation space to make something new which will surprise us, which will teach us something which we cannot teach ourselves.
Accessibility works both ways.
We need something new, refreshing.
We should be thinking about more time, more approaches, more people to come into the picture so that we can co-learn together and let go of what we know.
Letting go of what we know in order to learn new things.
Inclusion is for everyone – disabled artists include the non-disabled and reciprocal learning takes place.
and more vignettes from Peter in the Q&A…
When I first started working with disabled artists, I paid for every single transport for wheelchair users, I paid for a sign language interpreter, I paid the allowance for them to start to respect their art… everything from my savings.
We are the biggest sponsor of our own art. Because we love it, we want it.
We could be bankers, lawyers, medical doctors…
Why are we so stubborn? It’s because we are artists.
We can’t change our ‘DNA’ so what can we do about it?
I taught myself… quiet or go on.
Sponsor or find a sponsor.
Convert people to believe and believe, keep on talking, talk until we go to our grave… keep talking about it until it happens before you die…
It’s a bonus to say “I saw it happen”…
I believe I am just one small part of this ecosystem. I’m so bored with mainstream arts, it taught me nothing.
I am an actor, producer, director, for twenty years, I am so jaded and disappointed with what is out there… especially now with COVID19… it is hurting our mainstream artists already, how about our disabled artists?
We can’t do anything about it except to keep believing. For myself, I train them… up-skilling, second skills… when times are good again … when people / government can see that we are sponsoring ourselves, our lives, they would want to give something… to match up…
it takes a systemic change…
it is going to take a long time, there is no easy short cut…
… talking to (aspiring artists) in a classroom, to parents of disabled children to believe in them, to my boss, to my arts council… to friends from the mainstream… I keep on talking… it’s tiring but I want to do it.
It will have to come from us, and then hopefully the whole world would come on board.