Neuk (/njuːk/): noun, Scots.
- A nook; corner
- A collective carving out a place for neurodivergent artists in a neurotypical world
What is Neuk Collective?
Neuk Collective is a group of four neurodivergent artists – Robyn Benson, Dylan Esposito, Tzipporah Johnston and Dawnne McGeachy – set up in 2020 with support from Creative Scotland. Our work focuses on advocating for neurodivergent people in the arts.
- Neuk Manifesto
- Resources for Working With Neurodivergent Artists
- Neurodivergent Artists Network
What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is the idea that brain differences – e.g. autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia etc. – are a normal part of human diversity, rather than disorders or deficits. It is influenced by the Social Model of Disability, which argues that it’s the barriers erected by a prejudiced society that are truly disabling, rather than impairments or differences themselves.
People whose brain functions in the way that society deems “normal” are referred to as neurotypical.
People whose brain functions differently are referred to as neurodivergent.
Why a neurodivergent artists’ collective?
The contemporary art world is in many ways inherently hostile towards people with social disabilities, and there appears to be little understanding of the problem, let alone the will to change. Neurodivergent artists are frequently shut out by the system of networking. Issues with executive functioning and cognitive load can make dealing with funding bodies and applications overwhelming. Neurotypical gatekeepers often insist on work that fits with their ideas of what neurodivergent conditions like autism, dyspraxia, OCD, Tourettes etc. are or should be, as something tragic and pitiable. But when artists do create work around our difficulties, it can keep us siloed in a separate “disability” or “outsider” arts track, devalued and tokenised.
We are more likely than the general population to be unemployed and to experience poverty. We can’t afford to work for free, and our slow, considered artistic process doesn’t fit with the pressures of the commercial art world. The system simply isn’t built for us. And as budgets are squeezed and priorities shift in a post-Covid-19 world, these issues look set to get worse.
On top of this, neurodivergent artists often face these issues alone, without support structures or bodies to advocate for them. If we are to create alternatives to the current exclusionary model, neurodivergent people need to work together and support one another. The current state of dislocation and uncertainty presents challenges but also an opportunity to remake the system – to imagine and demand a better one.