Finding Corporate Sponsorship for Disability Projects

It is, I suppose, an indication of our maturing as a society, when corporations come on-board as sponsors for disability charities and their specific projects. Our conceptions of success and wealth are, perhaps, broadening to include a social responsibility toward those within our communities who cannot run, jump, swim or play at record breaking levels. Corporations have traditionally wanted to be associated only with winners; individuals and winning teams. Buy our product or service and you are part of a winning team. Bank with us and you are supporting your football code. The reality has always been that the vast majority of able bodied community members do not physically excel at anything themselves, but the archetypal illusion of the garlanded Olympic champion lives on in our collective dreams.

Helping those less fortunate has, in the past, been the shared province of church and state. More church when they were at the helm, and as their executive power has waned, government social services have come to the fore. Now, however, in a few cases we see corporations getting involved in things like the Paralympics. Sponsors of this event worldwide include: Toyota, VISA, Samsung, Panasonic, BP, Allianz, Atos and ottobock.  Although, this is still an elite sporting event, which has been transposed to the world of disabled athletes. The message remains we honour those who can run the fastest, jump the highest and so on. Success is predicated on being the best within certain prescribed parameters.

Finding Corporate Sponsorship for Disability Projects

In many instances corporate sponsorship for disability projects is the result of certain passionate individuals driving those projects through their association with that disability; usually because a family member or close friend has that disability. And now, we are seeing courageous individuals with disabilities breaking out of isolation and driving change themselves. No longer as marginalised, these impassioned individuals are crossing the line and reaching out. Often, things like this need strong motivation to succeed in crossing boundaries. Corporations do not traditionally identify themselves with those who are not highly successful; unless the corporation itself operates in the charitable field. Things are, however, beginning to change; as society becomes more inclusive, recognising those of its members with disability as valid human beings. The definition of success may just be broadening to include those who manage a life without the usual support of a fully functioning body or mind. Overcoming adversity and living a rich life, which includes disability but is not purely defined by it.

What things can we then offer a corporate sponsor to encourage them to get aboard? In marketing terms, logos on websites, invitations, brochures and all that usual stationary. Official acknowledgement at all social gatherings and plenty of gracious charm wherever possible. Social media can also be a valuable platform for cross-referencing corporate sponsorship of disabled projects and events. Regular mentions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can be very valuable as a reminder to all stakeholders of the importance of this corporate sponsorship. Finding corporate sponsorship for disability projects can be challenging, but ultimately is very rewarding for all parties involved. The twenty first century may just be the era of real inclusiveness; and we as a society can begin to honour greater things than mere sporting achievements.

 

Disabilities in Film, Theatre & The Arts

We see a few powerful movies every couple of years that feature characters with ‘disabilities’. But they are most often portrayed by able actors pretending to be disabled. Is this doing the issue of people with disabilities justice? Can disabilities ever be portrayed well in popular culture? Should more disabled people be portraying their own disabilities on film? Will the viewing audience go and watch these films if they do not feature a big movie star? Are we ready for the reality of disability or are we as a culture still at the level where we need to pretend?

Was Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man as good as it ever gets? Or Leonardo Di Caprio’s character of Arnie in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot was gut wrenching, even though we knew he was an actor pretending. There are more performers with physical disabilities being seen on our stages. Comics on the stand-up stage have been leading the way for many years. You could argue that many performers with mental disabilities have been with us since the beginning of time. It takes a special kind of mentality to stand up in front of a live audience night after night in the hope that people will laugh at you. Because they are often not laughing with you!

Disabilities in Film, Theatre & The Arts

Word is out that a movie is to be made about Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne with her Down Syndrome brother Stevie set to play himself in the movie. Would this be the ultimately satisfying disabled moment in celluloid? What about Down Syndrome actors, singers, musicians and dancers? Will we be seeing more of them, or was it just a fad?

For the most part, our popular culture is full of the ‘so-called’ beautiful people; types of individuals that we lesser mortals would like to emulate. Blonde headed babes and well-built handsome blokes are still more common up on the theatre stage and in the movies. We have a poor track record in how we have treated our brothers and sisters with disabilities in the past. Locking them away in institutions and begrudging them proper care. Not wishing to pay for their carers and not accepting them into our workplaces and recreational spaces. Things have just started to change on this score in this country, but let’s not kid ourselves about how far we have come as a society. How do we feel about disabled people having sex? Do we want to see more open expressions of their sexuality on the screen and in real life? These questions still make some sectors of our community feel uncomfortable.  The more we see all aspects of disability on the big screen and on the streets; the more we will expand our conception of humanity to include all colours, shapes and forms. I love that midget actor in Game of Thrones; not because he is a dwarf, but because he is a bloody good actor. The fact that he is stretching our envelope, when it comes to viewing pleasures, is just another part of the package.