“There’s a real will to see change,” stated Ruth Gould, the Artistic Director of Liverpool-based disability arts organisation DaDaFest. Ruth was talking about a discussion she just had with artists, leaders, and arts organizations from all over Indonesia:; aboutthe topic: equality towards for difable people, and the art plans around Asian Para Games 2018 that will be held in Jakarta next October.
Ruth explained further about the discussion, “It has been really interesting to be in a room full of people with very different experiences, but we’re all on the same page in the fact that we want to see things to really change, we want to include the same people.”
Ruth, along with Anthony Evans from Epic FestArts, was invited to Jakarta by British Council to help generate and nurture ideas that can be applied in the arts plans for Asian Para Games 2018.
She pointed out that one of the problems inhibiting difable people to from being included in the arts sector is a lack of benchmarks in disability arts. “There were a lot of people in the room who have been using the arts more as therapy or activities with disabled people, rather than seeing it as things you can do in the arts sector, being part of the arts sector, being in mainstream venues,” Ruth said.
She continued, “One of the things that I was trying to do is challenge the thinking, to think bigger, bolder. As for the non-disabled people, I want to get them to think about how they can make opportunities. We don’t just create arts and disabilities for the artists, but also how we can change society through the exposure of those arts.”
The UK needed 30-40 years to really start getting to grips ofwith that. They used the 2012 Paralympics as a catalyst, and the approaching Asian Para Games can be utilized in the same way too. But Ruth reminded us, “You still need a good product, excellent thinking of in the programmes that you want to put upon, also and good the connectivity with the arts sector and media to aware make the public aware about disability issues.”
DaDaFest itself promotes high quality disability and deaf arts from unique cultural perspectives. They also provide opportunities for disabled people to access the arts via training and a young people’s programme. Their vision is to inspire, develop and, celebrate talent and excellence in disability and deaf arts.
Ruth is regarded a pioneer in her field and continues to be passionate in empowering disabled artists. In early 2014, Ruth became a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellow, which has enabled her to visit locations in India, and Malawi, and more, to explore how the arts within countries outside the UK can empower and reposition disabled and deaf people in society.
Regarding her visit to Jakarta, Ruth said: “It’s a very busy place, but I like the fact that there are so much green around. I think I’ve fallen in love with it.”