EXPLORERS conference: Art, Rights and Representation – November 20 / 21 at Milton Keynes Gallery

Coming at a moment of political chaos and general uncertainty about the future in the UK, this event will examine the right of people with disabilities to cultural life; personal and institutional empathy and how two decades of discourse about diversity and inclusion have or have not changed the balance of representation in art and culture.

The timing of the conference is relevant given recent social media and press coverage on attitudes within the art world and cultural institutions towards people with disabilities. Articles in The Guardian and Frieze magazine make reference to Ciara O’Connor, a journalist and wheelchair user who had visited Tate Modern, and subsequently took to Twitter about the accessibility of the Olafur Eliasson exhibition. Her comments sparked a flurry of online commentary about accessibility in art institutions but also whether the art world ever considers the physical, psychological, social, and political marginalisation people with disabilities face.

The conference will examine issues such as these, as well as seeking change not just for audiences but for disabled artists who have long been excluded from the mainstream . 
If the art world does continue to have a problem with people with disabilities then we have to make the changes ourselves.
Quote from Kate Adams, Artist Director and CEO, Project Art Works
“If you are at all interested in art, people and change you should come. The conference will above all else generate insight and understanding between people. It will provide practical guidance and show different ways of addressing representation in art and culture.
It will also provide insight into the lived experience of autism, disability and complex needs that in itself is hugely interesting territory for us all – not just people who live it.  We will cover communication, behavior, perception, art, signing, empathy, photography and new ways of seeing and exploring art – including the exquisite Stubbs exhibition now showing at MK Gallery”.
Quote from Anthony Spira, Director, MK Gallery
“At MK Gallery we are extremely proud of our on-going collaboration with Project Art Works. Through regular training sessions for staff since 2010, a survey exhibition of projects by Project Art Works in 2011 and the recent partnership as part of Explorers, MK Gallery continues to prioritise programmes with and for neurodiverse people. The facilities in the new gallery building have been designed to enable new programmes and we hope this conference will stimulate new conversations and ideas.”

Kate Adams, Artist Director and CEO, Project Art Works

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