Making the case to better support neurodivergent freelancers
Earlier this year, performance artist Vijay Patel was sponsored by Artsadmin to be part of the Freelance Task Force, a project initiated by Fuel. Using this time, Vijay co-created a best practice guide with artist Rachael Young on supporting neurodiverse freelancers’ access needs in the arts sector. Vijay explains more in this blog.
In June 2020, I joined the Freelance Task Force, an initiative that included over 160 arts venues and organisations, each sponsoring one freelancer. I was sponsored by Artsadmin to do this work. Our task was to gather data, lobby, advocate and amplify the freelance voice amongst many other things.
I co-created a piece of work with artist Rachael Young titled ‘Making the case to better support neurodivergent freelancers’. The document is a result of 13 weeks (one day a week) of work. Personally, this was born out of my frustration, as a neurodivergent creative, of working independently in a sector which has not often had concrete systems for supporting accessibility for neurodivergence. We reached out to other neurodivergent freelancers to hear their experiences, which highlighted a need for further systems of support. This affects a significant proportion of our freelance community.
“…it is estimated that around 1 in 7 people (more than 15% of people in the UK) are neurodivergent, meaning that the brain functions, learns and processes information differently.”acas, Neurodiversity in the workplace
We recognised that there are many who want to know how they can better support in this area. We have done part of this work, which amounted to a best practice guide. This guide includes suggestions proposed by neurodivergent freelancers in the arts industry to better support access and inclusion. Now we predominantly need arts organisations/venues with the resources to amplify, acknowledge and support this work and future manifestations of it. We need organisations to read, sign and share it, in order to bolster the support for how neurodivergence is cared for and consistently within the arts sector. We need to have thorough conversations and rethinking about access and neurodivergence, together.