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Stephanie Fuller

Stephanie Fuller

Visual Arts Officer – Arts Council England SE

What makes a good leader?

A good leader is someone people want to join because it looks like the journey is going to be interesting. It's about listening as well as acting, and not being afraid or apologetic about making decisions. Leaders I respect treat and value everyone equally, and are able to be themselves - they don't have to create an impregnable facade in order to lead.

Is leadership different for disabled people?

There are issues around confidence, which aren't exclusive to disabled people, but there are other barriers that can affect this. Feeling you need to hide your impairment in order to get on or be taken seriously. As a deaf person I find it difficult (and very tiring) to take part in networking events, which excludes me from informal exchanges which can be very significant in career terms. Stamina is a factor - there's a strong culture of over working in the arts, and if you can't (or don't want) to have your life totally dominated by work it's hard to see yourself getting more prominent roles.

Are there barriers to leadership for disabled people that non-disabled people don’t experience?

Networking is certainly one. And perceptions – both disabled people themselves and other people seem to find it difficult to believe that they could be a successful part of the mainstream. Having an impairment seems to locate you within a particular part of the cultural sector (access, diversity, disability arts), which it is hard to move beyond.