Fred Batale, General Manager 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust is one of several artists with disabilities around the world that is taking part in Unlimited’s placement programme this year. Before he left for the UK Collins Muhwezi caught up with him in an interview...
Tell us about the project you are working on?
Disability Art Project Uganda (DAPU) started In late 2013. As a community of Persons with Disabilities (PWD’s), we came together with an aim of empowering other people with disabilities to develop practical skills, confidence and fulfill their creative potential. DAPU offers art and design skills to people with disabilities living on the streets and in slums. We help them to create unique art products which they sell to earn a living. Together as a community we use art to advocate for the rights of PWDs in Uganda.
Since it began 23 PWDs have completed skills trainings at 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust and thousands more through our public engagement advocacy projects such as the presented at Kampala Capital City Festival, KLAART 014 and LABA art festival.
How did your professional journey begin?
My journey started in 2009. I got enrolled at Makerere University on a government scholarship studying a bachelor’s degree in industrial and fine arts. After graduating in 2013 I began working at 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust, creating and developing an artistic library. Since then I have worked on various management roles and I am currently the general manager. After struggeling to become an artist I decided to establish the Disability Art Project Uganda a platform where I can serve and pave the way for other PWDs.
Tell us a bit more about Unlimted?
Unlimited is a programme that funds art by disabled artists and is based in the UK. As part of Unlimited’s international remit and commitment to skills development, it offers a professional placement to a disabled person based outside the UK who is working, or beginning to work, as an arts producer, curator or administrator. I applied and was offered a placement as an Arts Administrator.
This placement happens alongside the Unlimited Festival which offers talented disabled artists funds and mentoring support to develop, produce and showcase their ambitious work. The aim of Unlimited is to embed work by disabled artists within the UK cultural sector, reach new audiences and shift perceptions of disabled people
What activities have been planned for during your time in London?
It is short term professional work experience and learning opportunity. The role involves providing support to the teams at Artsadmin help coordinate events and manage administrative tasks. I will also help manage artists during the festival at Glasgow.
What do you hope to achieve while you are there?
This is an exciting opportunity for not only me but also PWDs in Uganda and the whole arts community. I will be able to learn how Artsadmin has been able to embed disability into the UK art scene, which is a big challenge to me as someone trying to achieve the same in the Ugandan art sector. The placement offers me the opportunity to meet different people working in different disability art scenes including administrators and artists and to network and share ideas with different people. Lastly, I will be able to present my work to international audiences, which is very exciting
Unlimited is an arts commissioning programme that aims to embed work by disabled artists within the UK and international cultural sectors, reach new audiences and shift perceptions of disabled people. Unlimited is delivered by the disability-led arts organisation Shape Arts and arts-producing organisation Artsadmin.