The social model of disability is a notion that is new to me. This model has helped me re-examine my understanding of the world, and has driven home how disability is a social construct. For The Public Theater, this perspective has made me question how we can better work with artists, engage with our audience, and how to work toward a theater-model that is inclusive.
Another aspect I continue to think about is that there are very few disabled-leaders in the theater world. I’ve thought about audiences and artists before, but to truly have change, we need to have a space for leaders. I was inspired by the training program that UNLIMITED offers. I would love to be a part of a similar program here in the States, especially since I am someone who has power to mentor an emerging producer. The Public Theater prides itself on fostering the next generation of leaders, but we need to expand our thinking to include disabled people in our roster. At this point, we have done a great job with bringing women and people of color into the administrative side of the institution, but have failed with bringing in disabled people. The quickest way to fix this, for me, would be funding—which is why I so admire the Unlimited trainee program. If whoever is reading this would like to figure out how to make a mentorship program for the future disabled leaders of America, then please consider me in as someone who would happily have an assistant line producer at The Public Theater.
A few other retina-burning learning moments from the Symposium, are how we always need to fight for the next stage of justice; i.e. there is no promised land. This really resonated for me because it would be so easy to feel good about checking one box, but there are so many boxes to check. The fight will never be over, and I want to be an accomplice, over being an ally. It feels cooler, and more active to be an “accomplice,”—a delineation made by Caroline Bowditch, the Executive Director of Arts Access Victoria. from the symposium.
Lastly, I’m trying to live by and for this line, made by Abid Hussain, Director of Diversity, Arts Council England: “Change is a collective responsibility.” This quote really encapsulates my experience at Unlimited.