DACP was founded by Kathy Coleman, Erik Ferguson, and Jody Ramey in January of 2005 as a way to support and expand upon a number of inclusive and mixed-abilities dance events that have been occurring in Portland since 2002.
The mission of the Disability Art and Culture Project (DACP) is to further the artistic expression of people with both apparent and non-apparent disabilities.
We view disability as a natural and valuable variation of the human form. We believe affirmative disability identity is intertwined with racial, gender, social, and economic justice.
DACP accomplishes this mission by supporting the creative expression of people with disabilities. DACP utilizes the performing arts as a method of examining disability in relation to society. DACP also supports established and emerging artists, as well as the community at large, in developing knowledge and expression of disability culture and pride.
DACP makes all efforts to support an anti-oppressive environment.
What Is Oppression?
We understand oppression to be any behavior that marginalizes, threatens, harms or silences an individual or group, with the support of cultural or institutional force. Oppressive behavior comes in a wide variety of forms, from seemingly harmless jokes to threats of violence, from interrupting to verbal abuse, from unwanted touching to rape, from hitting to murder. Some forms of oppression are more extreme and irreparable than others, but all serve to reinforce and enact a narrative in which a targeted group is less-than-human.
This is what distinguishes oppression from other forms of discrimination. Oppression is a systematic phenomenon that operates through power and privilege. An individual who experiences discrimination while in a position of power is not oppressed because society grants that individual both the expectation and capacity for recourse. Those who are oppressed, on the other hand, experience discrimination within a context of culturally imposed powerlessness. This may lead to situations in which they do not even see their own oppression, creating a culture of stigma, shame and social acceptance.
(See http://www.firestorm.coop/anti-oppression.html )
Oppression can occur in art in many forms. It can include: using language that is offensive to a marginalized group, reinforcing stereotypes, making broad statements about a particular group, jokes from groups you do not identify with, racial slurs, stories that do not include input from the marginalized groups that the story is about, putting down people in a marginalized group because they are “not trying hard enough,” microaggressions, exceptionalism of yourself or a specific person, etc..
We ask that all participants in our programming, including artists, commit to creating an anti-oppressive environment.
Kathy Coleman, Artistic Director, is a DanceAbility instructor and has prior dance experience with the New Dance Company of Stockton, California, which included studying modern dance and expressive movement arts. She conceived of the Disability Art and Culture Project not only as a way to support movement arts, but also to foster affirmative disability identity in individuals and the community. Kathy has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Disability Studies. The core of her artistic work is centered on themes of disability from a social relations perspective. She uses text and movement to portray lived experiences of cross disability realities and dreams. She does not shy away from difficult or dark truths which, in her view, hold their own beauty. She incorporates bodies and ways of moving to stretch the audience’s view of dance and the possibilities of an inclusive society.
Sarah Doherty, Development Director, has an MSW with a concentration in Community Based Practice. Before joining DACP, she worked at the Cornell University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center, and with a variety of community organizations in the Pacific Northwest, on administrative management and social justice/community-needs assessment, direct community support, event planning and management, and anti-oppressive trainings. She has been active in queer and trans, fat, and disability liberation movements as well as antipoverty and antiracist work, especially in higher education. She has a passion for inclusive, cross-community programming, intersectional analyses of social justice issues, and developing and supporting the leadership of marginalized communities. Doherty also has 18 years of experience performing in both amateur and professional choral organizations, and brings a love of the arts, and especially broadly inclusive arts, to her work with DACP.