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Liz Porter

Liz Porter

Storyteller/ Inclusive Arts Developer - freelance (portertales)

What makes a good leader?

Leaders are people who take responsibility for their own actions, listen to colleagues and creatives, are able to respond to challenges, are prepared to take risks and own up to mistakes, are supportive to others, enjoy bouncing ideas, move and grove with the changing times, are able to work as part of team or individually, lead by example and yet remain open to new ideas.

There are so many great leaders within our sector, here are a few: Maria Oshodi, Extant Chief Executive - look what Maria has achieved with EXTANT in just over 10 years!!! Stevie Rice, Dada-South, leads a dynamic team and if you work with Stevie you feel listened to and respected. Suzanne Bull, Attitude is Everything - building so many new opportunities for Disabled and Deaf music lovers.

Is leadership different for disabled people?

In terms of the disability sector I think having a personal or professional 'real' experience of impairment issues definitely informs our way of working and communicating within the sector. Understanding access and inclusion issues from a 'real' perspective gives our voices more strength, clarity and dynamism. To speak from the heart is sound, but somehow perhaps makes some of us more vulnerable and perhaps a bit naive. I think our 'life' experience can also inform our arts practice. It does mine, within the stories I choose to tell.

Many of us have had to experience isolation, exclusion from the mainstream creative sector, from training, from general participation or from professional opportunities. We have had to find new ways to express ourselves and to 'respond' innovative ways to get involved and we don't always know the best way to go about this. Also some of us struggle within the Disability sector to get our arts practice seen on equal terms. Storytelling is often misconstrued as something for children when it is much deeper than ticking just one box. I do feel that our sector could be developing so many initiatives. Storytelling could be used for creative access..... (probably a topic for another time but something I feel really passionate about!)

Do you think there are barriers to leadership for disabled people that non disabled people don't face?

Yes I think that it's sometimes harder for disabled creatives to get into mainstream arts development opportunities and my gut instinct tells me that it's because many mainstream arts managers just haven't had much experience of working alongside disabled creatives as equal peers. Too often assumptions are still made about 'what we can' and perhaps 'can't' do, but that's too simplistic. Non-disabled people may not have to consider access, communication, or transport as part of a daily working situation, or even physical barriers in buildings. It may be easier to get 'real' work experience.