Undercover Artist Festival

Episode 6 September 14, 2021 00:19:17
Undercover Artist Festival
Choice and Control
Undercover Artist Festival

Sep 14 2021 | 00:19:17

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Show Notes

Music, theatre, cabaret... there's nothing like a night out with some live entertainment.  If you're in Brisbane, the Undercover Artists Festival from September 16 to 18 is a fantastic opportunity. Not only is it fully accessible, with Auslan interpretations and audio descriptions, but every act features people with disability, and the whole festival is disability-led. 

To find out what's coming up and what that means, in this episode we're talking to festival director Madeleine Little.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 You've heard of the national disability insurance scheme, but how much do you know about it? Find out what it means, how it works and how to apply for access at carers Queensland's free workshop. Understanding the NDI S find out more, check for events coming up near year and book your spot [email protected]. You can also call us on 1300 triple 9, 6 3 6 Speaker 0 00:00:31 Joyce and control a podcast, celebrating people with disability brought to you by carers Queensland, indice, local area coordination partner in the community music theater, cabaret. There's nothing like a night out with some live entertainment. And if you're in Brisbane, the undercover artist festival coming up from September 16 to 18 could be a fantastic opportunity. Not only is it fully accessible with Oslo and interpretations and audio descriptions, but every act features people with disability and the whole festival is disability led to find out what's coming up. And what that means. We caught up with festival director, Madeline little, Speaker 2 00:01:12 The festival is three days of disability arts in the performing arts. So we've got theater, dance, comedy, poetry, music, cabaret, there's lots going on on that list. And, and certainly disability led performance is at the top of the agenda. So we've got three tracks to the festival. We've got the creative track, which is professional standard, high quality disability. Performing arts works. We've got our community tracks. So for our community arts organizations and activities for the community to get involved in, but may not be at that, um, professional standard, but it's still really important to us in our community. And then we've got our career track as well, where we've got a couple of wonderful workshops for people to engage in for their professional development. And then we've also got, um, outside access Australia is bringing meeting place to Brisbane for the first time, which is awesome. So we're hosting them in town for that. And that's the national arts and disability conference that happens every year. Speaker 2 00:02:14 Uh, disability led creative work is one when artists with disability or a group of artists with disability have the final say over their work. So they get to make all the decisions they're in the driver's seat. Um, and it's really important because it means that when it comes to telling our own stories, you know, we're in charge of all of the decisions. We get to have a say in how our stories and our voices are represented and make sure that it's done in the right way. But it's also about, you know, we don't have that many opportunities to lead our own work and for people to see what we can really do. So it's about spotlighting. The fact that, you know, we do have the talent and the skills, um, possible to make really great work happen, but making sure that our program, um, our creative Trek program has disability led means, but really shining a spotlight on this creative process or disability or creative process can create high quality work. Speaker 2 00:03:05 That's just as good as anything else you've ever seen. Sending a message to the rest of the industry that there's no excuse not to let us lead our own work anymore. You know, if we look at our program just as a small snippet or a small representation of the whole sector, we've got the fabulous Lauren Watson who is an aerial theater artists and both Lauren and her wheelchair go up into the air and do incredible things that I couldn't imagine doing myself. Um, not just because I'm scared of Heights. Um, but then we've got, you know, the fabulous, uh, crooners Tim McCallum and Tony D with a jazzy cabaret number. And instead of treading the boards, they're wheeling the boards and bringing us some high quality, you know, smooth jazz entertainment. And then you've got the straight-up theater with the bit of physical comedy and physical theater elements from Andy Snelling. Speaker 2 00:03:53 Who's lucky enough to be our only interstate guests at this point. Um, but she'll be rollerblading around the stage and creating some really high quality theater. And then we've got, oh gosh, all of our Hetherington page and his comedy cabaret, the no bang theory all about autism and taking down Sheldon Cooper from the big bang theory and, and his, um, his quest to get laid pretty much. Um, it's the funniest show and I've been lucky enough to see a rehearsal of it. Um, so I mean, I could, I could talk in-depth about all of the performances, like Navi Curran and brown church as well, just bringing some really beautiful, um, I think she calls it a Carrio poem, which is poetry and dance and theater and spoken word, or kind of wrapped up in this theatrical spectacle. We've got so much going on. And, and I think that's a real great insight into the rest of the disability arts sector too, is that there's such a diverse range of stories, voices, art forms, styles, that there really is something for everyone. And I think if, if you're open to diverse arts experiences, um, without the disability targets patch, then there's no reason why you can't come along to undercover artists festival and see something just as amazing. It just might mean that you end up with a different perspective on your way out. Speaker 0 00:05:09 I caught up with Oliver about the no bang Siri. And this was one of the things we spoke about how important is that representation done by people with disability and led directly by the people with the lived experience? Speaker 2 00:05:23 It's, it's crucial because if I think about, you know, the young people growing up who see what we would assume to be role models in the industry, it's really important to have someone you can relate to. You can see someone on stage and go, okay, that's, that's something I can relate to. I can aspire to be like that person. And, and if you only have characters like Sheldon Cooper out there who isn't even explicitly stated to have autism, but it shows a lot of the stereotypical traits. You know, someone like all of our growing up, it can get very frustrated because obviously, you know, your experiences are being represented appropriately and it affects how other people see you in the day-to-day world. So, you know, if I think about myself, you know, going through drama degree at uni and being told that I wouldn't have a career in the arts, because there was no one like me, you know, in the mainstream arts sector, the importance of having a person with disability, telling their own story on stage and being fully who they are on stage, not having to diminish any part of themselves to fit in. Speaker 2 00:06:24 It's invaluable. I can't stress enough how important it is and the impact that it has not just on disabled people who are gaining an opportunity to represent themselves appropriately for the first time, but for the wider society as well, to be able to open their perspectives and say that disability experiences are so much more diverse than they could have imagined and to throw any preconceptions out the window and just be ready to listen and to take on some truth for the first time it's really empowering for all involved. Speaker 0 00:06:57 How did you first get involved in the arts Maddy, Speaker 2 00:07:00 To be very honest, when I was eight years old, I wanted to be Hilary Duff. And that is the answer to that question. I got involved in choir and musicals and drama and things like that at school. And then, you know, the time came eventually in high school to start putting down your university preferences. And the only thing that I liked enough to continue studying was drama. So I chose to study a drama degree and kind of expected that I have to go into teaching because that's what everyone told me I'd have to do. Oh, you know, w what are you going to do after that? You're going to become a teacher, right? So you can make use of your drama degree. But I was lucky enough to be part of a student theater production in my second year, and to be given like a lead role and a role that wasn't explicitly stated to be a disabled character. Speaker 2 00:07:46 That was a really empowering moment for me. And I thought, okay, maybe I can have a go at this. I got involved with indel ability arts as an ensemble member. I've made a few shows with them. And from that point onwards, I just decided to keep going. And, you know, if you can't find that many opportunities, you have to make your own studied a master of arts at USQ as well to really research, accessible theater practice and how we can make work accessible for artists as well in the making and staging processes, as well as the audiences. Yeah. Through that, I've been making my own work and dabbling here, there, and in different theater projects, since, although it has quietened down a lot since, uh, the virus that shall not be named very thankful to be in this role now, to where I can just help make other people's projects happen. Speaker 0 00:08:38 And we'll ask, how has the COVID situation in Southeast Queensland effected the festival? Speaker 2 00:08:43 That's unfortunately meant that we had to cancel a couple of our programmed events. So unfortunately the sisters of invention won't be flying up from Adelaide, but they're touring party of, I think, 15 people or something like that. And unfortunately, you, Eliza hall is stuck down south as well. And so she's not performing at a closing that concert anymore. And those little cancellation decisions are probably more heartbreaking than people realize, because there's a lot of effort that goes into making and constructing a program for everyone, but a lot of effort from the artists as well. And then, you know, you just think about how every single day we're checking the updated guidelines. Are there any changes, making sure that we're abiding by all restrictions and checking in with our artists, making sure that they're going okay. Um, I mean, there's no easy answer to that one. It's just, you have to take it day by day and, and be prepared to be flexible, even if it is, you know, a lot of unknowns, the we're quietly confident that festivals going to go ahead and be a smash hit, um, with, or without masks. We're going to have a good time. Speaker 0 00:09:45 If you're looking for maximum flexibility and choice self managing your indice plan might be the right option for you. Carers Queensland's free introduction to self-management workshop covers the benefits of self managing your plan, how it works, and the practical side of arranging support and managing payments. This workshop is offered in-person and online. Find out more check for events coming up near year and book your spot [email protected]. Dotta you getting back to your own story, Maddie. I think everybody who sets out for a career in the arts is told how hard it is to make a go of it. You need to have a backup plan. You need to have something to fall back on when it all goes wrong. But do you think you got more of that because you had disability to contend with as well? Yeah, Speaker 2 00:10:34 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I mean, I can think of a couple of different occasions in school where the teachers were kind of tiptoeing around it. Um, but said, you know, oh, your scene was really, really good. You've got a real knack for this, but I would put something else down on your, you know, university preferences list just in case. And it's like, oh, why? Just in case and the answer that I got wasn't that it's hard to crack into the arts for anyone. It was, well, they don't normally accept people like you into these degrees. And so thinking specifically about the acting degree where they're near, there's an audition component. I didn't end up applying for the acting degree at QUT because I was told that, well, they don't normally take people like me, so it'd be 10 times as hard for me to get in. Speaker 2 00:11:23 So yeah, there's definitely that element of what I know now to be able ism, which is just that expectation that it's just going to be harder for me, no matter what, rather than asking the question. Well, if I am good enough, why can't I, if the skill is there, then what's the problem. And if someone says to me, you know, you're just not right for this opportunity. Great. You know, that's fine. That's how the arts works, but if I'm not right for the opportunity, because I have to sit down a little bit more than my peers, then there's a problem there. And I think we need to unpack that. Speaker 0 00:11:56 And how great now that the festival is there providing opportunities and also showing how much talent there is in people who've been traditionally excluded. Speaker 2 00:12:08 Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's the beautiful thing that we're seeing, you know, particularly if I highlight, swinging and spinning with the crooners, um, Tim McCallum was on the voice and had had, you know, a lot of really great exposure opportunities, the grand final IFL, um, national Anthem being one, um, and Tony D who was part of the superhumans campaign with Paralympics quite a few years back, great campaign really out there, but they've both been busking and tiny days often seen around Brisbane CBD, just busking away all the time and go, oh, your voice is way too good to just be relegated to basking all the time. You should have more opportunities. You should be on the stage a lot more. And I think, yeah, you just nailed it. It's, that's what this festival is all about is providing those opportunities that hopefully lead to further opportunities for artists. Once people see that their work really is just that good Speaker 0 00:13:04 Is the tide starting to turn. I feel like I hear a lot more about the arts and disability intersecting than I used to, but that might also be because I am an artist with disability. So obviously I'm watching people like Josh Thomas and Hannah Gatsby very closely are things starting to change. Speaker 2 00:13:22 I would say visibility is slowly improving, but perhaps the processes in the industry are not quite there yet. So, um, if I think about the, you know, like Josh Thomas and Hannah Gadsby, who you've mentioned, um, both incredible performance and comedians, um, but a lot of their exposure has come not necessarily through disability being a core component of who they are. And, and there's an element of what we call passing there, which is that privilege of, you know, can you blend into a predominantly non-disabled environment and have people be able to pick you out of a lineup? No, not so much. So there's an element there of, okay. So for possibly some of the more visible disability experiences like wheelchair users or cane users, visibility might still be slowly improving, but those barriers are probably more significant and there needs to be a lot of work done in the background because I'm hearing lots of arts industry people just say, oh, we don't know how it's going to be too hard. Speaker 2 00:14:27 It's going to cost too much. It's like, no, if you, if you can adapt, if you can make it work, it's actually not that hard. You just have to adjust your thinking first. So you can adjust the process and boost the, um, I guess the broader range of exposure and disability experiences, um, and the visibility of those. There's certainly something we've wanted to adjust with undercover artists dressable. So without, um, expressions of interest earlier this year in particular, it was really important that we simplify the language, we make it about the art, and it's not expecting an essay of a response justifying your work. It's just, why do you think this should be in the festival? What's special about this work. And can you give us some examples of your work? So you're not spending, you know, five to seven days working on this application. Speaker 2 00:15:18 That's 30 questions in length. You can just get straight down to it. Who are you, what is your work about why is it important? And that's all we need to know in the end on that and how much it costs. But even then, I think, you know, a lot of time and energy is spent on these really complex budgets for the very limited number of opportunities. And it's so easy to just go, can you give us a ballpark figure of how much you think it might cost? And if you're successful, we can work on the budget later. That's one tiny way. You can make those applications more accessible. And I think the sooner, the rest of the sector cottons onto that, I think the greater, the response will be to a lot of these opportunities Speaker 0 00:15:59 Other than the festival. What's next on the cards for humanity slate. Speaker 2 00:16:05 Um, I, you know, I honestly don't know. I hope to be working with undercover artist festival for a while, and the festival happens every two years. So the hope is that I'll be around for a little while longer, but you know, I've written a play recently, actually last year. Oh, wow. Um, with a co-writer Alistair Baldwin, um, he and I wrote a play called table 12. It's a comedy, I call it a romcom. It takes the kind of rom-com style of, um, many of the movies that we loved in the early two thousands, um, about the siblings of two disabled people getting married and all of the chaos that comes within planning a wedding with some accessibility elements and some disability politics thrown in there for some good fun. Um, and the two main disabled characters, really not wanting to like each other too much because they'll give into what their family wants. Um, but they ended up liking each other and spoiler alert. Um, so, you know, hopefully we might be able to do something with that play, but very much just looking forward to a small period of rest after the festival and then kicking on with the next plans. Well, what's next for undercover artist. Speaker 0 00:17:14 And we've spoken about the accessibility for the artists involved in the festival, but what about for the community and the people coming to the shows what's the audience facing accessibility like? Speaker 2 00:17:25 Yeah, absolutely. We're very proud to have alkaline interpreters for every show and event with the exception of Rachel missing hams Oz land, dramaturgy of Shakespeare workshop, which is delivered in Iceland. And we've also got audio described as full all of our works and captioning services as well. And realistically, you know, if you think about the main art sector, they go, oh, is there a demand for this service? And oftentimes they complain that there's not enough of an uptake. Whereas our view is that art should be for everyone and art should be accessible for everyone. You shouldn't have to book in for one specific night to be able to access something that's accessible. So if you come along to anything between the 16th to the 18th of September, um, you're sure to find something that meets your access requirements, as well as your taste in art, um, which is very exciting to be able to have the, the option to choose what to go to and what to enjoy. Um, and to know that everyone in the space is accessing it accessing the same. Art is really special. Speaker 0 00:18:27 The undercover artist festival runs in Brisbane from September 16 to 18 for more information visit undercover artist fest.com. Thanks for joining us a choice and control a carers Queensland podcast. For more information about the national disability insurance scheme or carers Queensland, contact us [email protected]. You can call us on one, 300 triple 9, 6, 3, 6, or head to Facebook and look for carers Queensland and the IRS

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