Monday, June 30, 2008

Disability arts growing in Cambodia

From the International Herald Tribune:

With the slogan, 'See ability, not disability,' the London-based charity Epic Arts has been challenging the common perception of disabled performing artists. 'This is not about sympathy or therapy," said its artistic director and founder, Katie MacCabe. 'We want to show that impairment can actually enhance creativity and that virtuosity is not the just the domain of the able-bodied.'

Epic, an acronym which stands for Each Person Is Counted, established a base in Phnom Penh in 2006, three years after MacCabe first visited the city with her husband. Since the suicide of her mother and the subsequent death from polio of her father, MacCabe, 34, a professional dancer, had been seeking radical solutions to the problem of 'exclusiveness' in dance, and ways of integrating disabled people into arts communities.

Cambodia represented a unique opportunity. The war-scarred country has one the world's highest ratios of disabled people, few of whom enjoy social protections. Established nongovernmental organizations like The Cambodia Trust, working exclusively with landmine victims, have been encouraging the government to draft legislation to improve their standing. Epic's mission has been to change public attitudes by training and showcasing disabled performing artists.