Troy Sandliands, Angel Fish (detail), 2011, acrylic on canvas
Photograph: Susie Waller
This is the year 2022.
As We Are is a prestigious annual art award on the WA calendar of art events. It is held at a prestigious Perth location and toured regionally. As We Are had its beginning 20 years ago and has played a significant role by creating opportunities for artists who have an intellectual disability to be recognised and valued as an integral part of the Western Australian Arts community.
Today several artists who have an intellectual disability earn a living from their arts practice and make a contribution to community through their creative expression. This has been made possible through a network of arts and community organisations, government and business that have collectively contributed to the groundbreaking advocacy and developmental services under the banner of Disability and the Arts.
In 2013 a new generation of artists who have an intellectual disability were introduced to the As We Are program through the Children’s As We Are. These initiatives have reaped many rewards.
The works of artists who have an intellectual disability are found in public and private collections. The works can be seen in major exhibitions across Australia and internationally and have resulted in the artist receiving prestigious art awards and art scholarships. In 2015 a Disability Arts Foundation was established to further these opportunities.
As We Are has been a channel through which new audiences have been introduced to the arts. It has created a time and place for communities and organisations to reflect, learn and engage in various aspects of mutual wellbeing.
The wider Australian community has come to know the spirit of As We Are – the sense of joy and wellbeing that comes through journeying with artists who have an intellectual disability.