The decisions are out, and CRIPtic has announced the artists joining our 2023-2024 programme. We were delighted to send those invitation emails, but the other side of that was recognising how many excellent artists we had to email, telling them that we couldn’t offer them places on this occasion. While we are unable to offer feedback to individual artists, we wanted to reflect on the factors that played into our decisions.
Reach & Launchpad
Reach is our peer-facilitated feedback, development, and workshopping programme for five artists to develop a solo show each, culminating in a two day residential, working with a director. Launchpad is our showcasing programme, supporting the development of four pieces, with direction, workshops, sound, lighting design, and a final performance. Some applicants for one of these were ultimately selected, or offered a place on the other, and thus we considered the applicants quite closely together.
Across Reach and Launchpad, we were excited by applications that told stories we hadn’t encountered before, those that moved into unique places with disability narratives, and those that told stories that extended far beyond the personal narrative of disability. We had a lot of applications with pieces that were quite similar in approach, especially around themes of neurodivergence and the personal impairment narrative. This meant that we had to be selective in order to ensure that the final Reach group, and the Launchpad showcase, told a diverse range of stories, from a diverse range of approaches.
Considering Reach, this also meant creating a cohort of people who could work together in a peer feedback space, creating and developing work as a group, supporting and encouraging each other. We had to ensure that we weren’t over-representing any one style, approach, theme, level of experience, or narrative structure, trying to keep the group as balanced as possible.
With Launchpad, we needed to consider the quality of the individual ideas, the feasibility and complexity of their development, the amount it seemed like applicants would be able to gain during the process, and crucially which pieces would work together to create a show. This meant a lot of internal discussion around some incredible ideas, trying to structure a show which would highlight four bold, new, adventurous performances. There were a wide range of ‘sets’ of work that we could have created, and the eventual decisions were very much made in terms of balance and structure for the showcase, knowing that for all the (incredibly worthy) acts we selected, this meant saying “not this time” to other equally worthy acts.
We are also running the second year of Incubate – our organisational development accelerator / incubator for emerging disabled-led organisations in the arts. Across Incubate, we also had some great applications and interviews, and again had to put together a cohort of organisations that fitted together, and who would all bring different elements and ideas to the fore. We sought out organisations with a clear and resilient business model, the capacity and plan to change the sector, reliable financial predictions, and ones that were ready for the growth we plan to support in this programme.
With Breakthrough – which offers two £6000 commissions to create a small-scale, perfect calling card for a disabled artist at the peak of their career, and facing barriers breaking into the mainstream, we were very aware that this was a potentially life-changing opportunity, and thus an incredibly difficult decision.
We eventually came back repeatedly to the sentence on our advertising material ‘artists who are at the peak of their careers, and facing barriers preventing them breaking into the mainstream’ and had to apply this to a series of very difficult decisions. Artists needed to have a very clear idea of where they had been, where they were going, and what barriers they were facing, a track record that demonstrated being at the peak of their career, and an commission proposal that was firmly tied to those barriers, clear on how it would help them escape from the ‘glass box’ some disabled artists are trapped in – too ‘successful’ and ‘experienced’ for programmes for emerging artists, and yet ‘too disabled’ for the mainstream arts world.
There were a huge number of outstanding applications across the programmes, but certain factors made applications stand out. These were pieces and ideas that felt fresh, and new; creatively courageous; and ones that put accessibility first from the outset, both in terms of the creative themselves, and the people experiencing the work being developed. The final cohort we have selected, reflects, as far as possible, our desire to support and represent a diverse range of people.
The key area in which we are aware of under-representation in the final decisions is Deaf BSL signers, where, despite targeted outreach, we received very few applicants. Whilst we’re working with one applicant to take an idea forward separately, we’re aware that the current core programmes don’t include Deaf BSL signers.
- Work on representing Deaf BSL signers in areas such as workshop facilitators and freelancers
- We will explore other ways of bringing deaf BSL signers into the creative development of these pieces and of the full showcase, and are working to ensure that BSL is integrated into all the performances
- Continue working with Spread the Word on activities for writers, including seeking funding to create a programme of writer development for Deaf BSL signers, which would be led in BSL by a Deaf BSL signer
We are very excited to start this year’s programme, but also want to remind all the applicants who weren’t offered places that there were far more excellent applications than we could offer places. We are often looking for performers, ideas, and people, and may well approach you about new opportunities or ideas, and we are really looking forward to seeing how everyone develops their ideas over the upcoming year.