DASH has just brought Cultivate to a close, a three year mentoring programme for Disabled visual artists based in the West Midlands, made possible with funding from The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Arts Council England. Over three years 45 artists took part and 155 mentoring sessions were held by 12 highly skilled mentors.

The primary aim of Cultivate was to support and aid the development of disabled artists, whether emerging or already established. The mentoring made a huge difference to the artists, raising levels of confidence and supporting them to make successful grant applications. The film above, produced by R&A Collaborations, documents the impact of the programme on a selection of the Disabled visual artists mentored:

Mentee Fae Kilburn said:

I’ve had friends say to me I’m a much more confident person now to how I used to be… if I want something, I’ll go and get it, I’ll go and do it. I don’t let the disability hold me back as much as I used to. I finished my degree and then went on to do a Masters, I won a residency, and none of that would have happened without the mentorship.

Mentee Susan Kruse said:

I can’t tell you enough how profoundly that first mentoring session changed my practice and how I felt about myself and the work that I was making.”

An exhibition of Kruse’s new drawings can currently be seen by appointment at Width of Circle Gallery in Stourbridge until 21 July.

As a result of the success of the Cultivate programme, DASH is now planning a Midlands-wide mentoring programme called Cultivation starting in 2019, with the aim of supporting up to 70 disabled artists to develop their careers.


Preview image: Mentor Jane Ralls with mentee Alex Robertson © Upstream Photography.

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