Interview with Joyce Wallace of Advocacy Matters

Creative City was generously funded by Birmingham City Council as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival and awarded grants directly to community groups. In collaboration with artists, the aim was to flood the city with new creative work. Inspired by the Games, local charities Advocacy Matters received a grant as part of their 20e birthday. They teamed up with Bostin Creative to create the film ‘Personal Best’, which was screened at our Birmingham 2022 Festival Site at Touch Base Pears. The short film defended the voices and hopes of five remarkable people living in Birmingham. All with different disabilities and at different stages of their lives, they strive for a future of inclusiveness, visibility and true community.

Last week, the festival team spoke to development worker for Advocacy Matters, Joyce Wallace, where we looked back at a project where culture and The Games went hand in hand for the festival.

Introduce your name, role and project.

My name is Joyce Wallace and I am a development worker for Advocacy Matters. Part of my role is recruiting volunteer attorneys for our organization, where I do our community work and support our volunteers.

Since our organization is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year and the heart of the organization started with the volunteers, we wanted to do something to celebrate. We wanted to create something that was puzzling and that would be an important part of our training program. We wanted something that we could use creatively to give a sense of what advocacy is and why it’s so important for them to come and support us in our training program.

The film looks at five stories of people with disabilities, of which that is one facet, but they are amazing and puzzling in other areas of life and that’s what’s more important.

How would you describe your project to those new to your job?

Personal Best summarizes the changes and experiences people have, whether they are nineteen or in their eighties, when their lives are disrupted by a disability. They would not say that their lives have been disrupted by a disability. Their life is their life.

What was your favorite part of the project?

Showing the movies and getting emotional every time I see something different! I like the trailer because it’s really spicy, and I like that we brought the people in and moved it to a different place.

Bostin Creative achieved things that changed the participants as individuals because they believed in the work we wanted to do. We have found ways to pique people’s interest in something, by taking them to another place that they would not normally have understood or experienced.

Do you have plans for after the festival?

Personal Best will be showcased as a resource at a national advocacy conference at the end of the year. We want to take it to different places – we hadn’t done visual projects before. This was our first trip and we will definitely do it again.

Is there anything else at the festival that you are looking forward to?

I’d like to see PoliNations, I’m looking forward to that!

What fascinates you about the Birmingham 2022 Festival?

I’ve always known Birmingham is full of secret and beautiful places – there are just so many beautiful places and surprises! We sometimes don’t like to shout about our surprises and Birmingham has taken the opportunity to do so. They are enlightened people for what Birmingham is really about, and at the heart of it are people who really care about each other from all walks of life.

Personal Best can be viewed online via YouTube.

Personal Best is a Creative City Project generously supported by Birmingham City Council. The film was written by Emily Summers, shot by Tom Synnott Bell and created by Bostin Creative with Advocacy Matters and Blue & White Creative.

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