Sunday, May 12, 2013

Up up and away... company launch and beyond

Our launch event on Friday went more smoothly than we had dared to hope. With a crowd of about 25 from a wide range of backgrounds we ate, drank, networked and, for the first time, I spoke about Narus to a group rather than through the one-on-one conversations I have previously been having. 

Asking the questions
This was both exciting and terrifying. I felt rather like a stage-mom sending my child our for her debut performance: hoping she'll remember her lines, hoping people will recognise her talent, or, at the very least, not laugh her off the stage.

At the end of my talk I put forward a number of questions. None of these questions are new, and yet we still ask them over and over again.

The Eternal Questions: 
How do we connect isolated networks? 
What frustrates you most? 
Where are the training opportunities for disabled performers? 
How do we engage with new audiences? 
What new people can be drawn into the conversation? 
How do we build a financially sustainable theatre? 
What gets in the way of creating art? 
How do you sell yourself without selling out? 
What action can we take NOW?

One thing that came out of the event was a realisation that more networking and brainstorming events would be a positive thing. It was wonderful during the evening to see people not only very responsive to what we wanted to achieve, but to see them forming connections with each other, and that part of our role, in the true spirit of collaboration and social enterprise, can be to help facilitate those cross-disciplinary conversations. 

This will be a chance to continue asking questions, to propose answers to them, and to find actions we can take to bring about the changes we want to see. As I said on Friday we're at a turning point with the economic crisis bringing cuts in so many areas, both in the arts and in disability benefits. Difficult as times are this also brings with it an opportunity, not to fight to salvage old models, but to re-invent our sector (and society) as we would like to see it. And who better than creative people to lead the way? 

This is where I see an overlap in our work and the social model of disability. Arguable all barriers we face, whether physical, financial, intellectual or emotional, are the product of a society that tries to prescribe a certain mode of operation. If we as human beings have the power to construct these barriers we have equal power to tear them down. It may be easier said then done, working to change institutions with centuries of ingrained mentalities. It requires a balance between understanding current systems so we can access, infiltrate, and change. As Picasso said "learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist."

All of this might seem very philosophical. But philosophy underpins much of what we do. We just have to make sure we don't stop there. It is though translating philosophy to action that we achieve our goals. And getting together in real time to talk and mobalise will, we hope, lead to that action. A bit of wine and cake along the way certainly won't hurt the process either. 

Narus Lauch Cake
A cake to commemorate the event
We will be publishing our future events via social media, and have started a mailing list for any who would like to receive personal updates, which you can sign up to via our blog or website. 

In the mean time, we welcome responses to our questions (or any new questions you would like to add!) either here on our blog, by e-mail or through conversations in person. 

It is just the start of the journey for us, and we are deeply grateful to everyone who has supported us thus far.

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