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Planning the artist’s route through the project, from selection to the execution of the work, will help you set out an accessible foundation for them. It will mean it is less likely that you will be reacting to events, and instead using your resources and energy to guide their course - as you would usually expect to do.

Getting your recruitment or selection right is critical to the success of the commission. The commission should be founded on the quality of the resulting work or contribution, and to ensure this, the recruitment process should have the usual rigour to it.

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Part of this involves requiring the artist to have a certain amount of skill or experience. The main caveat we suggest you consider here is: 

  • Whether you are setting the bar at an appropriate level for disabled artists


  • Or whether this is ruling out people who, with a certain amount of support, could deliver the commission equally as well, or better

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In particular, if you are running the commission in part to scout new and emerging talent, then some flexibility here can be rewarding for all concerned.

The reason to say this is that there is a lack of high quality and accessible opportunities for disabled artists, giving them much less of a chance to broaden and deepen their experience.

Disabled artists often find that their career starts to stall very early, when they come up against barriers to entry (finding a studio, financial issues, dealing with applications and processes), and end up applying for opportunities at a certain grade or level many years later than their non-disabled peers.

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In addition to this, it is important to ensure your call out is accessible to disabled candidates and that you provide comprehensive information phrased to encourage disabled artists to apply. 

Providing a range of application formats will reach people for whom purely text based documentation is inaccessible. Consider including visual material and audio versions of your documents, for example.

Because of the reasons given above, many disabled artists may be apprehensive about applying, fearing they lack the talent or experience required, or they may not be clear on what the commission involves them doing, or if support is provided. 

Check out our Ways of Seeing resource

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Simple steps can include providing a contact number or email address offering support with an application. Using welcoming language that is clear in its intentions, around targeting disabled candidates. 

Also, consider ways that you could break information down regarding the commission, and allow for people to ask questions.

For example, disabled people receiving benefits may have concerns about how commission payments might work alongside this.

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Apart from offering support with an application, you could run a session where access support is provided and someone in your team goes through what the commission involves and answers questions from potential candidates directly. It could be recorded in a way that benefits those unable to attend in person. 

There can be hidden benefits to doing this, in terms of understanding how clear your messaging is. Also, the questions you are asked at such an early stage, and by people who might be unfamiliar with you and your work, can be very instructive about areas of planning you may not have thought of previously.

Learn about arranging accessible interviews and meetings

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Any application process can take time and be demanding for an individual, requiring some people to give up precious time and energy they might devote to other important areas. With no guarantee of success, this can be daunting for disabled people considering making any kind of application. 

One approach that is more supportive is to invite applications from a pool of candidates, and provide them with a fee to take account of their time, while offering them support and advice while they work up a proposal.

The advantage of this is that it may introduce you to a variety of new artistic talent without the (often anonymous) admin process involved in a standard call out. 

Rather than all the focus being on one individual who may win the commission, it can help to connect you to a wider range of artists, and vice versa.

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There is a better risk and reward dynamic involved, and an opportunity for less experienced artists to gain valuable experience in creating a proposal that may help them in other areas, where they are applying for funding or describing their work to others. It may encourage them to apply where often they may not do so.

If you plan things on a flexible basis, remember: this itself is a form of access support.