A process and research shot taken with photo booth on my mac book. These are period glasses of the kind possibly worn by the artist whose history I’m working with.
This blog is honestly still BARCELONA IN A BAG, but I’m wrestling the big boss – Grantium – the new Arts Council England funding applications portal. This is taking all of my time (together with preliminary research and project development) therefore this is what I can and must blog about.
Today in an email to a friend I explained that the ACE application process was a mammoth with rather large tusks. Then as I stood dreamily at a bus stop on my way to an ACE funding meeting for my studios I decided that Grantium is my Everest.
I am a neurodivergent (ND) artist, dyscalculic and dyslexic. This means that I struggle to decode new language, formats and systems, and even familiar information takes extra processing time. Some information I will never decode or access, not even with support, but I’ve come to the realisation that the most useful way to understand my difficulties is in terms of cognitive load.
Conceptually – in any task relating to verbal reasoning I am quick – I can keep up with and and sometimes ahead of any such conversation in the moment. But in terms of complex organisational tasks, decoding and managing a large volume of information is what gets in the way.
Consider then the demands of the ACE application for any project, and the sheer weight of information that must be gleaned, processed and organised. This really does feel like my Everest, and it has taken extraordinary motivation to persist.
In my last post I included a link to a video of a group of artists describing what I would say seem to relate to larger societal structural inequalities, which create even greater barriers to ND people. Obstacles which occur prior to even reaching Everest’s base camp.
Those of us at base camp are privileged in relative terms but it can still seem like there is no way up.
I’m not going to critique Grantium, though I could offer to do so in quite some detail from an ND user perspective.
Instead, what I want to say is that Everest suddenly satisfied me at that bus stop in a way that the mammoth metaphor just couldn’t. That is because of the sherpas.
While I truly believe we absolutely do need a radically different system for ND people in order to achieve true parity, I can honestly say that due to helpline staff and access contact I feel supported for the first time in my professional life.
The Arts Council England people interface is what has saved this experience. I could not have even gained entry to the applications portal without it and I feel they are Everest’s sherpas guiding me. It might be a bit fanciful to say that they are willing me on – but it feels like it and I’m an artist and my imagination is very very good.
But I am someone who can manage and process spoken word to a great extent. I am struck by how inaccessible this particular form of access support will be for ND artists who can’t. I am curious to know what is currently offered in it’s place – I’m sure with ACE’s commitment to diversity there should be many alternatives. You have to wonder though how many ND artists are overwhelmed by the challenges to cognitive load in the present system to the extent that they give up.
If you’d like to read about my new collaborative project for which I’m seeking this ACE funding you can do so here:
Originally sited at WordPress to enable my collaborators to join me and to create a separate identity for this project, I will be sharing material from this project here too.
NB. I want to acknowledge ND artist Jon Adams for his contribution to my thinking around some of the challenges of ACE applications. You can find Jon on the link below.