Real Talent Exposed at AMI Awards

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have been invited to the first ever Ability Media International (AMI) awards held at the impressive Kings Place in Yourk Road London.

The awards celebrated the achievement of highly talented individuals across all forms of media: dance, opera, theatre, film, television, interactive, online, community etc.

The recipients were all at the top of the league and all have a disability or have enabled disabled people to realise their talent.

The point of the day was to emphasise not that each of these people were in some way exceptional (though they all were) but that each of these people is mostly normal, mostly just another soul trying to live a fruitful life, trying to achieve some goal.

Like other people a few have big dreams that they have managed to turn into reality.

I was truly excited by the awards. I felt the breadth of achievement, judged purely on the merit of the talent under scrutiny, not weighted with sympathy or well meaning, was a clear signal that this country’s talent pool comes in every shape, size and shade.

We are incredibly fortunate to live in the UK; it enjoys an enviable global respect for its arts and media output. We could lose that respect if we don’t nurture it.

The industry brings valuable money into our economy and employs around half a million people. But what drives the creativity? What forges the talent? Where do these extraordinary people come from?

We used to believe they came, pretty much exclusively, from white men, aged around 20 to 40. Well educated, fit. Able bodied.

We don’t think that is true any longer of course but we are still missing rich seams of valuable potential talent by assuming disability negates creativity or ability.

I believe our country should have the best, the very best, people with the most creative ideas, the most honed talents, leading the way. In my view that means seeking out those special people across the entire population, no matter what state they are in physically, mentally or socialogically. White, twentysomething, fit, able bodied men are just as valuable as anyone else but they are not the only source of our nation’s creative fuel.

Our society, in common with many others, has assumed people with disabilities are not as creative as an able bodied person, but that simply isn’t true. The AMI awards showed that to be the case incredibly clearly.

The AMI Awards is an initiative by Leonard Cheshire Disability, itself an astounding organisation.

Hope I get invited again next year!