CACD Artists Recognised 

Congratulations to all recipients of the 2015 Australia Council Awards. This year three community arts and cultural development (CACD) artists have been recognised.

Tony Doyle winner of the Ros Bower Award

Tony Doyle winner of the Ros Bower Award

The Ros Bower award given to artists with a proven record of high achievement in CACD who are driven by the principles of equality, respect, and diversity has been awarded to Tony Doyle. Alyson Evans and Alysha Herrmann share the Kirk Robson Award which recognises outstanding leadership from young people working in CACD particularly in reconciliation and social justice.

Tony Doyle has been working over 25 years locally and internationally as a performer, producer and director. He has extensive experience producing community programs particularly disability arts projects and events and festivals, including the High Beam International Disability Arts Festival. High Beam was a ten day biennial event which Tony directed from 1990 to 2002 when he was Director of ‘Arts in Action’ South Australia’s peak disability arts organisation.

Doyle remembers that time, “High Beam was exciting…it was the first international disability festival in Australasia and it inspired similar festivals such as the Kickstart Festival in Canada, the Above and Beyond Festival and Liverpool International Arts Festival in England”.

For Doyle, who was partially blind at birth and is now totally blind, music has given him the opportunity to connect with a broad range of people and inspired his work in CACD.

Doyle is passionate advocate. He would like to be a “beacon for blind people” and for all people with disabilities. The high unemployment rate and social isolation that people with disabilities endure concern him deeply. He believes the Arts are a place that can provide both employment and important social networks for people.

Finding a mentor is something that Doyle places great value on. He has great respect for the work of the late Deidre Williams OAM, who was instrumental in shaping the arts landscape of South Australia for over 25 years. “She was the doyen of community arts… a strategic thinker… a gladiator… and a great “sharer” of knowledge. The sharing of knowledge is important to Doyle and he has a wealth of knowledge about the CACD sector and the intersection of disability and the arts.

The philosophy of Doyle’s work is to use the arts as a vehicle for building creative and inclusive communities and to negotiate integration from a position of community strength and support.

Self-determination is crucial for Doyle not only in making personal choices but in the direction of the organisations that exist to support people with disabilities. He believes organisations that are servicing people with disabilities can achieve better outcomes if they are led by people with disabilities. “So often there is no consulting with individuals… no respect or dignity … and as the social and cultural infrastructure of this country is being raked apart by cuts it gets worse.”

Despite the changes Doyle has seen in the funding landscape and the “delicate time” we are currently in he believes that there is more disability arts happening now than twenty five years ago and this is a tribute to people living with disabilities.