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Foolish to Ignore

05 May 2011 by Nicky

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 performers.

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.

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