Crow puts faith in welfare facts over fiction for new campaign


theweeksubA disabled artist’s new project is aiming to give campaigners the tools to correct some of the most damaging lies and myths about the government’s welfare reforms.

The artist-activist Liz Crow launched #InActualFact in response to years of propaganda from both the government and the media that she said had managed to “skew public opinion towards division and hatred”.

She has brought together a series of simple, memorable, hard-hitting but carefully-sourced facts that can be used in both daily conversation and on social media to “counter the rhetoric” about the welfare reforms and cuts to benefits.

The facts include: “Almost 25% of the benefits budget goes unclaimed #InActualFact.”

And: “Disabled people who have Motability cars are not given them free, they pay with hard-to-claim DLA #InActualFact.”

The focus of #InActualFact is on using the information on the social media site Twitter, with Crow’s own website designed so users only need to make a single click to send out one of the facts as a message.

Crow said: “It’s lightweight activism. If we could flood social media with actual facts, that could have a significant impact.

“The government’s message is about fraud and people being paid too much benefits and tax-payers being abused. What we need to do is put out the actual facts. We need to be the ones that determine public opinion.”

Her hope is that other campaigners will now submit additional facts through #InActualFact – as well as including a source – which will then be checked for accuracy before being added to the website.

The launch of the campaign coincides with Crow’s performance of Bedding Out – her highly personal, bed-staged demonstration of the contradictions and complexities of real life for a disability benefits claimant – at the Edinburgh Fringe, from 10am today (Friday) to 4pm tomorrow.

It follows Bedding Out’s successful stint at Salisbury Arts Centre in April, which was watched online by more than 9,750 people in more than 50 countries, again raising awareness of the impact of the government’s welfare reforms.

The live performance sees Crow putting her “private, bed-oriented life” in the public arena over the course of 48 hours.

She has to spend much of her life in bed because of her impairment, but until now has succeeded in keeping that part of herself hidden from view.

During the performance, members of the public are invited to take part in “bedside conversations” with her as she lies in her bed, so they can discuss the work and its welfare reform backdrop.

She said the collection and checking of the facts for #InActualFact had been “a huge task”, which began after the Salisbury performance.

She said: “What came through the conversations was the onslaught of the propaganda and the horrific impact it is having.”

Crow also praised the “phenomenal” work of the Bristol-based web design, graphics and public relations studio CoQuo, which has worked on #InActualFact with her.

8 August 2013