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Ardent Hare's Blog
Routes to Resilience
Written by Ardent Hare   
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 08:06

The sparkle of the Olympics and its nostalgic glimpse into all that is great in British culture has distracted us somewhat from the gloom of the economy. Not that that's a bad thing. Lots of 'resting' artists are actually enjoying the only upside to not working at the moment - back to back coverage of Olympic sports. But come September it will be back to the grindstone and back to reality. And disabled people are going to be facing some pretty tough times.

bouncebackThe Work and Pensions Secretary says that he is determined to introduce radical reforms to disability benefits which will see more than two million claimants reassessed in the next four years.

In this current climate it is critical that we invest in growing self-sufficient and resilient individuals and communities to cope positively with change, challenge, adversity and shock to become eminently more employable and to enhance disabled people’s offer to employers.

1.3 million disabled people in the UK are available for and want to work[1] but have neither the confidence or self-belief to progress their professional ambitions. In the work that Ardent Hare has been delivering, we found that some of the key factors in disabled people not achieving personal and economic well being is lack of self-esteem, confidence and self-motivation. Many people are also held back by the cost of skills development and still, incredibly, a real lack of accessible learning opportunities.

Leading economists De Neve (University College London) and Oswald (Warwick University) have proved that happiness and well being directly impact on your own individual economic situation because happier people are more productive and successful. Huppert and So (University of Cambridge) have shown individuals must have resilience and self-esteem if they want to have a high level of personal well being.

Ardent Hare has partnered with Bridge Builders with whom we've had a long standing and successful realtionship and secured funding to invest in a pool of Resilience Advocates to champion the message of the importance of well being to effectiveness and success for a wide variety of business and community audiences.

We will be staging the first seminar in London at Whitechapel Gallery on Monday 17th September exploring the link between the 'harder edged' side of self employment and survival with what we might think of as the 'softer edged' side of personal and professional happiness and wellbeing and how this affects productivity and creativity. Check out our news item here.

In the autumn we will be staging resilience and self-effectiveness training, events and coaching. Watch this space for more details.

It may not feel like it now, but come the autumn it will be business as usual for most of the country.

Stevie Rice


[1] 'Disabled for life?' attitudes towards, and experiences of, disability in Britain, Ini Grewal, Sarah Joy, Jane Lewis, Kirby Swales and Kandy Woodfield, A report of research carried out by the National Centre for Social Research on behalf of the DWP

Seeds of Change
Written by Ardent Hare   
Wednesday, 04 July 2012 07:51

Just under a month to go before the eyes of the world are focussed on London where the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be staged for the first time since 1948.  How the capital and our society have changed since those post-War austerity Games – although the word ‘austerity’ is to be heard quite frequently in these tough economic times. 

Society has come a long way in its attitudes towards Deaf and disabled people.  Appropriately, some of the more positive changes can be traced back to the extraordinary developments at Stoke Mandeville Hospital where doctors had to find new ways to treat the horrific physical and mental injuries suffered by service personnel.  The modern Paralympic Games are a measure of how far we have come.  But not all areas of our public life have become so enlightened. 

Earlier this month, the House of Commons held a very moving debate on mental illness with a number of MPs speaking honestly and openly about the challenges they face.  But Parliament starts from a very low base.  On 20 June, a Bill to remove longstanding legislation that prevents some people with a history of mental illness from being MPs was presented in Parliament by Gavin Barwell MP.  An encouraging sign but extraordinary to think that it has taken this long.

Another small but encouraging sign was a recent event at the South Bank with guest speaker Will Self and attended by our own Ardent Director, Stevie Rice.  Presented by SHAPE and the Leading Through Change network, Headlining Disability: Arts, Sports, Disability and the Media, explored  the opportunities presented by the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and Paralympic Games to re-imagine the way the public see disabled people. As DAO’s Colin Hambrook wrote: “Disability arts and sports will be celebrated on an unprecedented scale, images of successful disabled artists and athletes will fill our screens and more words will be written about disability than ever before. How writers and journalists reflect on this will shape the way disabled people are seen by the public for a generation.”

In a summer seemingly dominated by floods and gales, let us hope these seeds can still take root and that a real outcome of the forthcoming events will be a change of attitude towards Deaf and disabled people in both Parliament and the media.  Where they lead, surely the rest of us will follow?

Graham Wiffen

Chair of the Hare

Leaping hurdles
Written by Ardent Hare   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 13:51

What an amazing year! At this week’s meeting of the Ardent Hare Board, we reviewed the achievements of 2011-12. In the run up to this summer’s London Olympic and Paralympic Games, Ardent Hare/Dada-South delivered an extraordinary programme the highlights of which were Up-Stream, the first major showcase for Deaf and disabled artists and performers at the Brighton Festival and Go Public, public art commissions for disabled and Deaf artists.

hurdlesBehind the public achievements lie stories of individual challenge and heroism that match those of an Olympic or Paralympic athlete. We considered how best we could build on our past success, support our artists and develop a coherent programme for 2012-13 working within the constraints of a substantially reduced Arts Council grant and the prospect of no core funding from 2012 onward. Despite this huge challenge, both staff and Board are agreed that the demise of Ardent Hare - an organisation formally launched in the year of London securing the Olympics and Paralympics - would be a far from appropriate legacy of the London games. Surely, if the much vaunted ‘Big Society’ is to become more than just a political slogan, then the example and ethos of Ardent Hares ‘passion about potential’ could provide a glimmer of hope for a society battered by cuts and demoralised by the constant negativity of the mass media. Ardent artists and performers must leap considerable hurdles to survive let alone thrive. Our support is focused on their practice and their personal development – their wellbeing. Perhaps it is through their example that we can help to improve the wellbeing the wider community. Now that would be a legacy worth celebrating.

Graham Wiffen

Chair of the Hare

Spring is here at the Hare
Written by Ardent Hare   
Monday, 26 March 2012 12:06

It’s April and spring has most definitely sprung, even if the mornings are still decidedly chilly.

The clocks have lurched forward and despite that lost hour, we are all feeling rather spring like and energetic at Ardent Hare.

We sewed lots of seeds during the long winter months, which are at last just beginning to show through – fresh green shoots of possibility. Our new website is receiving lots of positive interest and comments.  Ardent Artists are merrily blogging away and the Ardent Patron scheme is attracting support. Many of you are also joining our community and accessing our online creative resources, networks, news and opportunities. It is all emerging from the undergrowth.

spring flowers for blogThe hare has leapt into being.

As Programme Manager for Ardent Hare, I have a uniquely inspiring job. I work with artists on their professional development, plan and manage events and activities and create and commission resources to provide ongoing advice, guidance and support. What could be better?

I work with artists on a day to day basis, who are truly creative, incredibly diverse in their practice, often weirdly wonderful in their character and full of ideas and inspiration.

I believe that being creative is an innate calling and it is a gift to be able to earn a living doing what you love. But sometimes doing what you love can be challenging, difficult, lonely, isolating and frustrating. It’s my job to provide support to artists, to help lighten the load, to build networks and communities, so that they are introduced to like minded souls, to provide practical advice and guidance, offer mentoring and professional development opportunities and sometimes just to sit and listen.

At the moment I’m making plans for a series of summer networking events designed to bring people together, to share ideas, to create that spark of inspiration, which we all need from time to time. These ideas are just tiny seedlings at present, but I hope that they will blossom once the sun begins to shine.

Meanwhile there are already some lovely blooms ready for picking from within our community pages. Do sign up to join us www.ardenthare.org.uk/join

Suzanne Rose

Programme Manager

Chair of the Hare Speaks Out
Written by Ardent Hare   
Thursday, 01 March 2012 11:51

My name is Graham.  I’m chair of the Hare and this is my first blog.

As one who is dangerously close to the third age, the world of social networking is not my natural habitat.  And as one who didn’t believe that Windows would catch on (why would anyone want to to use something as silly as a ‘mouse’?) or that e-mail or the internet had a future, I am probably not best placed to talk about the concept but I am rapidly becoming a convert.  Oh yes, and I have mastered the mouse!

image of the starship enterpriseAt our first official meeting of the Board of Ardent Hare last week, we took time under the patient guidance of Board colleague, Jane Galloway, to explore the brave new worlds of Facebook, Twitter, the Blog and much, much more.  Now, I am old enough to remember “boldly going where no man had gone before” in the company of Captain James T Kirk on the star ship Enterprise.  Was the Star Trek Captain’s log the first blog?  We have not yet reached the stage of inter-galactic communications but with some 350 million people now using Facebook we have already made the first step and this is surely one giant leap for mankind.

As an agency, Ardent Hare needs to communicate our message to the widest possible audience.  We need to inform and to influence.  And we need to use every medium available to us to communicate effectively.  We also need to build our community of artists and practitioners and we believe that they will benefit by communicating with each other.  In a rapidly changing technological society, it is challenging for even the most technically sophisticated person to keep up.  How then are the rest of us going to take advantage of the opportunities offered by these new developments?

In an effort not to make the same mistake again, I am trying hard not to ignore the potential offered by networks such as Facebook, Linked In and Beebo etc.   These networks are reaching hundreds of millions of people on a daily basis and the numbers seem to grow exponentially.  Having taken early retirement, I joined Facebook on my 60th birthday because I thought it would help me to keep in touch with friends and former colleagues.  It does.  It is not perfect.  It can be trivial but it is also an extraordinary forum for the exchange of views and ideas.   The old adage remains true: rubbish in = rubbish out.

For artists and arts workers seeking to promote their work, to communicate with other artists – not just locally but around the globe – to exchange ideas and look for new ones then the world of social media is offering  ever more opportunities.  Not surprisingly, the world of business and commerce is rapidly catching on to the potential offered and the enormous audiences for their products and services.  What makes this really interesting from the Ardent Hare perspective are the creative ways in which that can and will be done in the future.  New creative partnerships are being forged between artists, designers and their business partners and the results can be visually, aurally and commercially exciting.  Do you need a new leaflet to promote your product or can you create an online game? Can an avatar be your next best friend? 

I hope that the Ardent Hare website can become a forum where Deaf and disabled artists, performers and practitioners can share their thoughts and concerns about the new media.  How is it impacting on your work, the way you produce it and the way you bring it into the marketplace?  How are the access needs of Deaf and disabled artists being met by social networking sites? 

Too many questions?  Probably.  Answers?  Well, many of them are out there on the internet.  So, take up your mouse and explore.  For now, I have to write a press release – how delightfully old fashioned! 

If you would like to find out more about blogging or social media, there are two great resources written in our resources section. Please click on the links below:

The Art of Blogging by Colin Hambrook

Social Media by Gary Thomas

Graham Wiffen

Chair of the Hare


Ardent Hare is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales.

Company number: 05574285. Charity No: 1121501