South Africa: Take Part in Awareness Campaigns for People With Disabilities

Citizens have been called to participate in the various awareness campaigns and support programmes available for people with disabilities to remove the barriers perpetuated by stigmatisation and discriminatory practices.

Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) Deputy Director-General, Shoki Tshabalala, made this call during a webinar for artists with disabilities held on Wednesday.

The department, in partnership with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC), hosted the webinar to foster inclusion, integration and the promotion of artists with disabilities into the mainstream arts and culture sector.

The webinar also aimed to remove the limitation of placing people with disabilities in a system that does not promote arts and cultural activities of people with disabilities, and not as active participants in the country’s arts and cultural programs.

In her address, Tshabalala said the department had identified several areas of collaboration with the Department of Arts, Culture and Sport for the 2023/2024 financial year and empowerment of people with disabilities in the arts, is one of them.

She said in 2021, the department was invited by the DSAC to a workshop which was convened during Disability Rights Awareness Month (DRAM) 2021 in Kopanong.

“There were workshop resolutions and identified areas of support needed by artists with disabilities [and] the resolutions would guide us to develop a plan of action. During the DWYPD 2022 4 Cities Tour, there was a realisation of a greater need for persons with disabilities to be aware of and be exposed to the funding opportunities available within DSAC,” Tshabalala highlighted.

Tshabalala said, through this collaboration, empowerment workshops will be conducted, as most of the artists are not professionally organised.

The workshops will provide access to funding on business and professionalisation of their artistry/crafts, and how artists should interact with different funding schemes.

Tshabalala acknowledged that there are issues of access to markets, saying government needs to ascertain how best they can participate in the mainstreaming of the industry and rope in different industry stakeholders, including private or public to assist artists.

“There is a need to look at institutionalisation of the disability forums [and] this ties up with the mainstreaming of DSAC programmes. We will look at how DSAC programmes are structured in terms of DSAC annual performance plan and operational plans, and DWYPD will assist in the mainstreaming indicators thereof to ensure there is disability inclusion.

“Consistent with the “nothing about us without us” movement, the creation of a framework on self-representation for persons with disabilities is also one of our top priorities for this,” the Deputy Director-General said.

Addressing barriers for artists with disabilities

CEO of the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town, Marlene le Roux, highlighted some of the needs of artists with disabilities, including special transport; accommodation close to the performing venue; assistive devices; medical support such as physiotherapy; assistants to help artists and provision of sustenance.

“While we all strive for equality, as this means ‘we all get the same’, it can only work if we all start from the same place. In many instances and especially for persons with disabilities, we need to address the barriers that they must first overcome in order to have equal opportunities,” le Roux said.

She emphasised that the National Disability Rights Awareness Month, which is celebrated annually from 3 November to 3 December, should not be a “box-ticking” activity but rather it should be a time for introspection on what has happened, what is supposed to be happening, and where the country is going.

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