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Photo by Philip King.

It’s been a very long time since I blogged in this space as I’m currently working on an ACE funded project which I write about on Through An Artist’s Eye.

What has brought me back here is the viral “cheat sheet” recently reported on by a-n, and created by artist Rachel Dobbs, for artists to use when applying for ACE funding.

Click on the link above and you will see that I am name checked. I’m also credited in the original article about this on a-n.

“Hobbs…refers to artist and a-n blogger Sonia Boué’s words on the subject.

The Grants for the Arts application portal came under the spotlight earlier this year when Boué released a video plea to Arts Council England to make its forms more accessible to applicants with neurodivergent brains.

In her video, Boué describes how the linear sequence of the current application system is at odds with the way many neurodiverse brains function. She suggests that there need to be more ways of presenting information to funders.”

I’ve been astonished to learn that I could have had such an impact with my video, and it is heartening to be taken seriously by my profession when talking about neurodivergence.

The ‘cheat sheet” is a fascinating development, but I remain wary because social biases in the present system remain – and these work against autistic artists. It’s not just the Grantium portal and the online form which are so particularly inaccessible for autistic artists. Socially biased expectations run through the application process (as a whole) and continue to hold us back as a group; and hidden social codes permeate all aspects of professional life and advancement in the arts. The problem runs much deeper than a short cut, however welcome the ‘cheat sheet’ might be in cracking the a specific code that of the Grantium portal.

The difficulty remains however, as there are still autistic artists (those known of and many more who remain invisible even to our growing autistic network) so intimidated by the application process (in toto) that they are prevented from applying for ACE grant awards. You can say the same of many neurotypical artists perhaps, but the causes will be quite different – and this is what is worth teasing out.

I have been fortunate to find my way through this quite recently – but there are others who are not able to reach the point of project development expected of an application under the present system. This is due to the multiple social demands required to get there, and the fundamental differences in the ways in which autistic artists might arrive at a creative practice and perform as professionals.

We are yet to achieve parity for autistic artists, and it is important to keep talking about that. We need to move beyond the ‘cheat sheet’ and we will.


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