A very interesting hour was spent at The Rose Theatre in Kingston yesterday
for one of its regular Time to Talk events. Regular readers of TIO
Blog might know that we don't live a million miles from the
wonderful new space and that we are great supporters. Although my
support was rewarded, I would certainly have liked more of an
indication beforehand what the bargain valued £5.00 was going to
buy. Perhaps they just wanted to keep it a surprise.
Lord (Brian) Rix and Gus Garside, both high profile individuals
in the world of learning disability, were discussing the need for
more opportunities in the arts for learning disabled
Lord Rix enlightened us about his career with MENCAP, at the arts council and also about the
work of Dr. John Langdon Down, a pioneer of integration
of those who in the 19th century were labelled "idiots",
Gus Garside's contribution focussed on the history of learning
disabled artists over the centuries (just think of the Kings'
Fools) and how individuals enrich the arts word today - I,
for one, am looking forward to seeing Mind the Gap at Hampton Court on
23-25th July 2011
As an interviewer I could have asked questions for another hour,
but this wasn't the platform so a couple would have to do. Gus
Garfield suggested that it's agents and writers who need more
understanding if we are to see earning disabled artists performing
mainstream. One artist who enraptured the audience at the Rose was
Jez Colborne - Garside
played a short video of him playing jazz piano.
In his chat Lord mentioned his 80th birthday " a few
years ago" - which of course demanded the question: Well how old
is he? It is extremely difficult to believe the
numerous searches I did online to confirm - that Lord Rix was
born in 1924 which makes him an astonishing 87. Sporting hyper
bright red socks (and constantly pulling at his razor sharply
pressed trousers indicated he was more than proud of them), he
would easily pass for 15 years younger.
What bothered me most about the event, was that there was little
to indicate exactly what the talk was to be about. I counted barely
24 souls in the vast Rose auditorium which was an enormous shame,
since it's just this sort of debate that the arts world needs and
that general audiences would find enlightening.
Ian Brown, Professor of Drama at Kingston
University introduced the session saying that it was
experimental and that this was the second of five.
Next week (11th May) I am looking forward to hearing
Sandy Nairne, director of the illustrious and much loved National Portrait Gallery on
stage. What he will talk about to entice me to keep my commitment
remains a mystery.