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Esther Fox

Esther leads Curating for Change, creating ground-breaking opportunities for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people to participate and lead in the cultural sector

Curating for Change is an England-wide heritage project that transforms chances for disabled people wanting to pursue a career in the museum sector and how D/deaf and disabled people experience visits.

A landmark Fellowship and Traineeship programme includes paid work placements with mentoring and training opportunities for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people. Fellows and trainees are hosted by more than 20 partner museums across England and have space to research and curate a range of new exhibitions and events for more than 240,000 visitors.

They produce exhibitions, events and blogs, exploring disabled people’s histories – while gaining skills for careers in the sector on the project which launched in October. The rich and diverse history of D/deaf and disabled people is rarely exhibited in museums, with few objects in collections reflecting the history of disabled people. They aim to change this with D/deaf and disabled people in curatorial roles.

Esther being awarded her National Lottery Award by historian and actor Sir Tony Robinson

Museum partners will also rethink everything from how to word job advertisements, to the implications of hybrid working - which is changing the workplace for all but can have particularly liberating implications for d/Deaf, disabled and neurodiverse staff.

Esther is head of Screen South’s Accentuate programme, and said: “We know from previous experience and speaking to our museum partners, that Curating for Change is a much needed initiative."

"There is a huge appetite within museums to address the current underrepresentation of D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people, but they are keen to have specialist support to inspire and support them to do so. Accentuate knows that change is best when it comes from within organisations and we are passionate about supporting a whole new cohort of D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse curators who will lead this process.”

Esther Fox with her National Lottery Awards trophy

“I’m truly delighted to have won and that our work is being recognised. It’s so important that our museums are representative of all people and all histories, so we can see ourselves reflected, not hidden. In particular, we must provide opportunities for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent curators to uncover the fascinating and often overlooked histories of disabled people, for all to enjoy. Our Curating for Change Fellows are leading this process, so this award isn’t just an honour for me, but for the whole team too.”

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