I started working for Touretteshero just over a year ago. It’s been a busy and exciting time, but also an unusual one – because until a few weeks ago I’d never met any of the Touretteshero team in person! Now, though, I’m sat on the sofa in our lovely new office, where most of us work together. It’s exciting to think of all the things we’ll get up to in the coming months, and it’s meant that I’ve been reflecting on everything that happened last year.
In December, Jess drew a fantastic Picture of 2021, which showed what the year looked like for us. Within that picture were three programmes that I was lucky enough to run, each unique and exciting in its own way. These were the Young Artists Development Programme, Future Scribers, and the Practical Intervention Fund. I’m going to talk a little bit about each.
The Young Artists Development Programme
The Young Artists Development Programme launched in March, and was an opportunity for Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists aged 14 and 26 to develop their artistic practice. I was so excited by this because we encouraged our commissioned artists to experiment and try new things. The focus wasn’t on creating a polished piece of work, but instead on discovering ways of creating work that felt good to the artist.
The outcome was incredible! Our 10 artists produced such amazing work, and it was wonderful to chat to them about their ideas and processes throughout. There was a fantastic diversity of work – we had digital art from Imogen and Liam, photography from Beth, audio pieces from Helena, Rylan and Sorcha, zines from Emily and Maria, and videos from Anton and Maiya (Maiya’s video will be posted to the blog soon, so be ready for that!).
Being able to share the work of ten up-and-coming disabled artists was an absolute privilege and I’m so excited to see what each of them will do next.
Future Scribers was an online live scribing traineeship for Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent illustrators and visual artists, which ran for two weeks in September and October last year. It was a chance for members of the Touretteshero team, illustrator Amber Anderson and our six selected artists to collaborate creatively and develop our understanding of live scribing. Everyone had a different creative background, so we were able to find new and exciting ways to approach and think about live scribing, while learning from each other throughout.
Future Scribers felt particularly special to me because it provided a space for Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent creatives to co-exist safely during an uncertain and often isolating pandemic. Finding ways to connect meaningfully with each other has been especially important during the last two years, and I was so glad that Future Scribers was able to do this in a creative setting. Everyone produced such vibrant and lively work, and as I signed into Zoom each morning I was excited about where the day would take us.
At the end of the two weeks, we all came together with snacks and drinks. It was a chance to look back on the work everyone had created during the traineeship and learn about each other’s individual practices – but most importantly, to celebrate and have fun!
The Practical Intervention Fund
The Practical Intervention Fund provided items related to relaxation and wellbeing (such as weighted blankets, fidget toys, and noise-cancelling headphones) to Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people of all ages. We received applications from all over the UK, and over fifty people received their chosen items.
The Touretteshero team have loads of different practical interventions that make our lives easier – Jess has talked about the things she finds helpful in her post Intervention Round-up Reloaded, and I talked a bit about mine when we launched the Practical Intervention Fund. Whether it’s at home, in the office, or out-and-about, there are so many things that can have a positive impact on wellbeing, so creating the fund felt like a natural way to support access to these items.
The feedback we received was fantastic, and it demonstrated just how meaningful these small interventions can be. Community-based solidarity is a core part of disability culture, so running this fund was a great way to kick-start my role as a Solidarity Worker.
Because the first run of the Practical Intervention Fund was so successful, we’ve decided to do a second! Details of how to apply will be posted to our website and social media in the next few weeks, so make sure you’re following us on Facebook and Twitter if you’re not already.
2021 was a year full of amazing new solidarity-based initiatives for Touretteshero, and I feel so lucky to have been at the centre of it all. 2022 has plenty of excitement in store, too – I can’t wait to get stuck in!
With love and solidarity,