The Last Word: What’s Next?

Posted on: Friday 10 July 2020 5:12pm by Lorna Partington Walsh

CMC Advisory Committee Chair Sue Nott introduced the final session of the conference with a run down of the highlights and thanks to the supporters and contributors in 2020. Despite lockdown, CMC has continued to support the kids’ media industry by keeping it “alive, alert and punching above its weight.”

Delegates were then treated to performances from Miss Jacqui and John Kelly of Graeae Theatre. Both writers, musicians and performers, they explained that, as Disabled people, they had faced challenges throughout their lives and dealt with them through a relationship to the arts. 

Having worked in the arts for nearly 30 years, with performers both disabled and non-disabled, John understands first hand that inclusion works. He talked about feeling different as a child. Although he had plenty of encouragement, he was segregated by the education system. He has fought exclusion and isolation his whole life, and he only feels vulnerable when the system and society determines that he should. For John, music is freedom. Through it, he found a way to express himself and be empowered. His song, ‘Battle of Whitehall’, is a protest song inspired by the demonstrations to win civil rights for people with disabilities prior to the DDA, which became law 25 years ago.

Miss Jacqui’s song ‘Freedom’ was written to reflect her experiences as a Black woman with a disability. She talked about the importance of intersectionality in the arts. For her, rebellion is an important concept: it’s about acting for what you believe in with purpose, even when (perhaps especially when) it moves most people out of their collective comfort zone. Rebellion carries consequences, both positive and negative, but freedom is worth all consequences!

John and Miss Jacqui performed a final song together, ‘If It Can’t Be Right, It Must Be Wrong’ and concluded the session with remarks about what the CMC community should consider going forward:

  • We must empower children and young people to express freedom. And what is freedom? Inclusion, difference, and uniqueness. 
  • If children and young people are not included and valued, they are denied the opportunity to contribute and lead. 
  • And ALL children miss out when some of them are excluded from representation on TV and in films, books, theatre, etc. 
  • Change must happen, and allyship is central to change.

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Lorna Partington Walsh

About the author

Lorna Partington Walsh

Writer/Editor

Lorna is a writer/editor who is supporting CMC 2020 by managing the session blogging and helping build the online conference platform. A CMC old-hand, she was involved in the conference's early years, prior to her move to California in 2008. When she returned to the UK in 2019, where else… Read more