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Julie McNamara

Julie McNamara

Experimental Theatre Practitioner

Leading others means allowing them to see their qualities, guiding them to sense their own power, their own ability to grow into the best that they can be. The word disability used to mean something that disqualifies us from entering the game. How could we raise a banner proclaiming ‘Proud to be Disabled’, if it truly meant: ‘proud to have my power taken away’. Now we speak of our cultural and political pride as Disabled people, working alongside each other to reach the best that we can become. Disabled and Proud!

What makes a good leader?

A good leader will put others before themselves, nurture the best qualities in the bright lights of each of the souls engaged in community about them. It's about knowing when to fight like a rhinoceros on behalf of our sector and knowing when to stand back and let others grow into the best that they can become. Leaders often take big risks, they dream the impossible and encourage others to join them on the journey, often by setting the example rather than direct recruitment. My favourite leaders are: Ghandi, Mandela, Mary Robinson, Mahinarangi Tocker, Audre Lord, and so many others...

Is leadership different for disabled people?

Yes. It focuses the use of time and space. It keeps us ever present as we may have short shelf life. That means we are often more imaginative and creative in problem-solving. It often means we are immediate in our risk-taking and less intimidated by fears of being perceived as weak.

Our self images rarely tally with the outside picture of who we are. Projections created by the Disability label are too often connected with prejudicial labels and assumptions. We have internalised some of these labels and often the stigma attached to them. But in order to flourish and thrive we have to challenge those erroneous images of ourselves on a daily basis, often several times a day. It means we are constantly re-inventing ourselves and our relationships from inner world to outer relationships. It keeps our creative pulse alive!

Are there barriers to leadership for disabled people that non disabled people don’t experience?

Social attitudes still stink.

Stigma is so very strong. We constantly face others' expectations of failure, of weakness, of not reaching the targets. That is often an immediate psychological barrier when others recognise our disability - whether they have read it on paper in advance of meeting us or they have 'perceived' it in our presence.

Even President Roosevelt hid his wheelchair in photographs because he didn't want to project the image of weakness he located with his own mode of transport!

To see Julie talking about why disabled people are still marginalised and excluded in the arts, follow the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyxwaQAwJ5w