Disclosures & Representation: Best Practices

Flexibility, Visibility, and Culture Shift

As someone with an invisible illness and disability, I have the privilege of choosing to conceal my challenges most of the time; however, this only leads to immense struggles for me down the line as I am not able to perform my job to the best of my abilities when I'm struggling with chronic pain and fatigue. Working for an organization that outwardly, visibly supports diversity and inclusion efforts, and works diligently to put their implicit biases in check helps build trust. Disclosing a disability and/or illness in the interview/hiring process can be terrifying.


Another thing that has helped immensely is having a flexible schedule. Of course there are days where flexibility is not always the best option, but having the ability to work from home and/or put in my hours when I have the most cognitive focus has been instrumental in allowing me to remain in the workforce; as is the ability to see my medical care team during typical work hours. Along those lines, providing health care benefits is huge help for those of us that rely on our medical care team for support.


In my experience, the arts industry falls into an unhealthy martyrdom mentality. While the work we produce is supposed to enhance, nurture, and evolve our society, we seem to forget to do the same things for ourselves, with self-care as an afterthought. Having a chronic illness that impacts my energy levels and focus has taught me that pacing and self-care are vital to the work, and having multiple perspectives from people who struggle to work a 40-hour week in our fast-paced world is just as valuable as the perspectives of people who can function on only 5 hours of sleep and thrive in aggressive environments. My experience has taught me the value of thoughtful reflection and centered approaches - something I see our industry, and society at-large, struggle with. Overvaluing expedience also means that organizations have less capacity and agility to think creatively about accommodations, which are personal and unique to each artist. Taking a pause to look at the way arts organizations function without ample resources would go a long way to create space for increased accessibility conversations and action, which can lead to meaningful policy change at a government level.

Last Edited by Jess Carr


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Idea No. 120