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New grants to boost the development of disability arts

Amir Asnafzadeh
Disability Cultural Projects
Fittings Multimedia Arts

Ghazalla Akram
James Conn
Lewis Scott

Lydia Popowich
Robert Arnold Synge
Rosita McKenzie

Holding Tight. Photo: Ruth Clark

A paper modelling project, integrated dance choreography, a photographic project for visually impaired participants and a collaboration with Sharmanka kinetic theatre are among nine projects the Scottish Arts Council is supporting through a new fund to support the development of disability arts.

Disability arts is described as any arts activity that is about how disabled people see the world and how the world sees disabled people. The new arts fund, totalling £50,000, has been introduced to boost development in this area. 

The projects all reflect and explore impairment or disability and grants have been awarded to individual artists and arts organisations working in the disability arts field. They are:

  • Amir Asnafzadeh: visual artist
  • Disability Cultural Projects: Model Me Real
  • Fittings Multimedia Arts: collaboration with Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre
  • Ghazalla Akram:  performance artist.
  • James Conn: photographic artist
  • Lewis Scott: musician with ‘The Lewis Scott Project’
  • Lydia Popowich: Disability Pursuits Visual arts project
  • Robert Arnold Synge: dance artist/choreographer
  • Rosita McKenzie: visually impaired photographer

Amir Asnafzadeh

Amir Asnafzadeh’s project will explore the role of the support staff who assist him with the barriers he faces on a daily basis.  Amir is conscious of such support staff being a very real manifestation of his impairment. This project will see Amir work with another visual artist to create a sculpture out of the timesheets of his employees that he has collated over many years.

Disability Cultural Projects

This project entitled Model Me Real will work with three established deaf/disabled artists in Scotland in the design phase of paper-based models that in some way reflect views on disability. These designs will then be translated in to ‘cut out’ diagrams and instructions that can be replicated by anyone within their own home/work/etc. These instructions will be available to download from Disability Arts website or by post.

Fittings Multimedia Arts

Fittings Multimedia Arts is a Liverpool-based, mixed media arts organisation which is disability led. Their project will be a Scottish-based collaboration with Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre on a new installation called Sputnik which will centre around an extra-terrestrial machine that is powered by a “disabled” human being inside. The performance will investigate the relationship between humans and machines, especially in relation to disability.

Ghazalla Akram

Ghazalla Abram is a performance artist. This project will see Ghazalla create a performance piece entitled ‘Look at Me’ based around her identity.  The process of creating this piece will be videoed and this the end product will be a combination of the piece itself and a video reflecting upon it.

James Conn

James Conn is a visual artist based in Aberdeenshire, his work uses bold colour over line and photography. He will undertake an artistic journey through Scotland by train and produce work for a new exhibition. James took up art two years ago he has since won the prestigious Helen Keller award. 

Lewis Scott

Lewis Scott is a musician who is deafblind. His band – ‘The Lewis Scott Project’ comprises of Lewis on lead vocals and various instrumentals played by Lewis’s support staff who are also musicians, the band has played extensively throughout the country.

The funding will support the rehearsal and recording processes for ‘The Lewis Scott Project’ to produce another album. This project is also supported by Sense Scotland. Visit Lewis Scot myspace


Caithness- based visual artist Lydia Popowich has been supported to produce a project entitled Disability Pursuits which will see the creation of an interactive visual arts installation based on a traditional style board game. Each section will depict different aspects of her own journey through life in a disabling society focusing on both positive and negative experiences in work, leisure, home, money, sex, health, friendship and education. The resulting exhibition will tour to venues in North Scotland. www.lypopdesigns.co.uk/ 

Robert Arnold Synge

Robert Synge is an Edinburgh-based dance artist/choreographer who works throughout the UK.   He has been supported to pursue a new dance project with English-based artist Julie Cleves examining the relationship between a disabled and a non-disabled dancer and how this is perceived by the audience. The project will include outreach work at Dancebase Edinburgh

Rosita McKenzie

Rosita McKenzie is an experienced visually impaired photographer and visual artist. She collaborates with Camilla Adams to create tactile interpretations of her work.

Rosita is passionate about giving visually impaired people greater access to photography and visual arts and her project ‘Revealed’ aims to train visually impaired participants in digital photography on location in Edinburgh. At the same time an audio recording will be taken to document their thoughts and observations of the shoot. This will culminate in an exhibition of their photography and sound piece in collaboration with Stills gallery. www.rositamckenzie.com/

A number of the artists have developed their practice with support from Sense Scotland.  Sense Scotland is part of the UK National Deafblind and Rubella Association and is a leader in the field of communication and innovative support services for people who are marginalised because of challenging behavior, health care issues and the complexity of their support needs. Sense Scotland’s Arts Programme is funded by the Scottish Arts Council.

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