For this month’s NDACA - the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive, a project delivered by Shape - blog, Project Manager Zoe Partington provides an update on the different elements of the project, discusses what the history of the Disability Arts Movement means to her, and announces the launch of NDACA’s monthly newsletter, The NDACA Paper.

As we lead up to the first event of this year’s UK Disability History Month, a conference on the history of disability arts, it seems timely to provide some context and information about the National Disability Arts Collection & Archive and the progress being made by the NDACA team. 

Sarah Dormer, NDACA’s Learning Officer, is leading on the high profile Learning Wing and Research Centre at Bucks New University, as well as collaborating with Richard Rieser to produce a series of animations and learning resources for Disability History Month. We welcome Fiona Richardson to the team who is working on embedding the NDACA archives across Bucks New University. Since I joined the project in late June, I’ve had an amazing journey, getting to grips with key components. The Project Manager of NDACA plays a prestigious role which involves studying the catalogue of 2,500+ archived items, overseeing the development of NDACA’s website, and being able to dip into the last 40 years of a significant time in Disability Arts history.

The heritage of Disability Arts – the protests, campaigning and artwork – has undoubtedly had a lasting impact on today’s arts and culture sector, challenging the landscape of oppression that disabled people have experienced in the UK. The ramifications of cataloguing and preserving the history of the Disability Arts Movement through digital collection are remarkable: NDACA will keep the memories of ordinary disabled people alive, and will function as a place where disabled people can comment on and evaluate their own history. Once the website and catalogue goes live in April 2018, important histories - often hidden from view - will be shared through countless platforms for generations to come.

The NDACA project has opened my mind. The expertise of the Archivist Alex Cowan has meant the facets of Disability Arts history are being pulled together into one contained place. The archive will revolutionise how people can currently access information on disabled people’s culture by reinforcing the idea that disabled people are valuable, creative and an intrinsic part of society. The heritage of the Disability Arts Movement has expanded my world, and shows that whatever you want to achieve is possible, as long as you are dedicated, hardworking and are willing to collaborate with others.  

NDACA tells the story of disabled people who were uninterested in being ‘inspirational’ or pitied: they wanted to challenge the norm, to take back control of their own lives. Disabled people rightfully understood that they should be able to contribute to society – as much as and no less than non-disabled people. They fought against the expectation that to be disabled was to suffer some kind of ‘loss’. All the organisations, individuals and teams that NDACA has worked with are pioneers of their time and we are indebted to them.

To gather momentum around this rich history we are launching our new digital monthly newsletter called The NDACA Paper, edited by NDACA’s Marketing and Engagement Officer Georgia Macqueen Black. The first edition goes out this month, and will provide people with articles and insight as we gear up to project delivery next year.

Banner Image: Still shot from the NDACA animation for Disability History Month

If you would like to sign up to The NDACA Paper, please click here

Click here to book tickets for NDACA’s first event of 2017 at this year’s UK Disability History Month

NDACA’s website and catalogue ‘goes live’ in April 2018; click here to read more about our project.

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