I am engaged by issues around physical and sensory disability as well as learning and intellectual disability. I am interested in enabling talented disabled artists to access what they need to make their work, make it better and more widely known. I am also interested in autism in all its forms and giving a voice in society to those who in many cases literally do not have one.
Here is an overview of the state of Disability Arts I wrote in September 2015 for The Guardian
My chapter on Crossing The Line will appear early in 2019 in On Dramaturgy: Unpacking Diversity and Inclusion, Case Studies From the Field, a Routledge book..
Here is a provocation I gave to students at the University of Reading in November 2017. Crossing The Lines
Crossing The Line
I am the Crossing The Line Project Dramaturg.
Crossing The Line began in 2014 as a project of the co-operative partnership of 3 European theatre companies: all leaders in the field of working with learning disabled artists. Moomsteatern in Malmo, Sweden; Compagnie de L’Oiseau Mouche in Roubaix, France and Mind The Gap in Bradford, UK
Artistically led and committed to meeting the new challenges of producing and touring theatre made by learning disabled and non-disabled theatre makers, Crossing The Line enabled the three companies to bring their artists together to learn from and with each other; engage with creative and audience development processes; develop connections with a wider network of European theatre companies with a focus on learning disabled artists; and create 3 new productions – culminating in a showcase festival in Roubaix in January 2017.
Read my interview with Bella Todd on the Crossing The Line festival
You can also read the Crossing The Line report
Crossing The Line was made possible thanks to a grant of €200,000 from the EU Creative Europe fund. As of 2017, the partnership has now expanded to 7, including Theater Babel in Rotterdam, Blue Teapot in Galway, Hijinx in Cardiff and Theatr 21 in Warsaw
Theatres of Learning Disability
Theatres of Learning Disability – Good, Bad or Plain Ugly by Matt Hargrave is the first academic investigation to focus on the aesthetics of learning disability as opposed to that work being seen through lenses of advocacy or therapy. As part of Crossing The Line I held a launch for the book at Goldsmiths in collaboration with the Disability Research Centre there, in which Matt Hargrave and Mind the Gap artist Jez Colborne talk about their work. You can watch this launch
I became a board member of Vital Xposure in 2016 and took over as Chair in 2018.
writernet, Graeae, Sarah Dickenson, Kaite O’Reilly & Jenny Sealey
As Director of writernet over ten years, I worked with Sarah Dickenson and Kaite O’Reilly to capacity build Graeae (from Jenny Sealey’s appointment), to grow their own dramaturgical approach to working with playwrights
writernet ran four developmental projects with Graeae 1997-2007
- Mentoring Scheme Also with New Writing North
- Lemonia a Residential at Holton Lea
- display 4 also with Soho Theatre
- Mentoring scheme – also with Apples and Snakes
This yielded, among other things, two productions – one for Graeae and one for Soho Theatre.
I chaired two symposia on Alternative Dramaturgies informed by a Deaf and disability perspective as part of Kaite O’Reilly’s Arts and Humanities Research Council Creative Fellowship, at the Universities of Liverpool and Exeter. 2005-2006
As Executive Chair of Creative People, the UK network of individuals and organisations offering information, advice and guidance on professional development in the arts and crafts, I worked very closely to promote and integrate the work of Disability Advisor – Sue Williams, later Strategic Lead Officer, Arts Council England National Office 2005-2008
Theatre & Autism
I was on the Steering Group for, helped structure and shape and Co-Chaired the Theatre and Autism Industry Day with ATG, SOLT/TMA, at The Unicorn October 2011. I gave the keynote address to the first relaxed performances convening in Hong Kong in October 2015.
I was invited as one of 10 UK Thought Leaders on Disability and Performance, to the Kennedy Centre, Washington DC September 2012 Out of this, I began scoping with Tim Wheeler a potential partnership between Mind The Gap. Bradford, Moomsteatern, Malmo, and Compagnie de L’Oiseau Mouche In March 2013 I oversaw the bid-writing process and we got funding from the EU Creative Europe fund to begin Crossing The Line at the end of 2014.
As Parent/Trustee at Ambitious about Autism, 2006-2013 the National Charity for Autism Education, I sat on the Impact Committee, the Youth Council and the Post-19 Working Group. I have given evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee and spoken about the need for reverse inclusion in mainstream schools, freedom of choice for parents to pursue a child-centred option for their education and the importance of properly maintained statements of educational need. As of January 2014 I became an Expert Adviser.
I have an autistic and learning disabled son, Gabriel, who turns 21 in 2019.