Take us as we are – empowering neurodivergent and disabled experiences in the arts

The arts industry has a long way to go in accommodating creatives and audiences who do not conform to dominant, ableist narratives.
neurodivergent. disability. Image is a group of people with various disabilities gathered in a space and workshopping drama ideas.

Sometimes we don’t have to look very far to see the barriers of access that exist in our arts infrastructure. The experience of taking my younger sister into an art gallery for the first time showed how these barriers could create a stressful situation for both people with disabilities and their carers. 

Care had to be taken to prevent my sister from touching the art, as the eyes of the security guards consistently flicked in our direction; the sculptures in the middle of the room could have easily become a safety hazard if she had made a run for it. Viewing art seemed almost like a burden – a chore, which meant that neither of us actually enjoyed the experience. 

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Satara Uthayakumaran is a young writer, currently studying a Bachelor of Arts/Laws at the Australian National University. She has previously written for publications including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Sydney Morning Herald and the ACT Human Rights Commission. She is a Board Member of the Domestic Violence Crisis Centre and a Youth Ambassador for Anti-Slavery Australia. Satara has also appeared on national television, most notably for her conversation with previous Prime Minister Julia Gillard, on women of colour in leadership.