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NEWS: Transforming Leadership National programme for learning disabled and autistic creatives

22 June 2023

Nottingham Playhouse will be part of a new nationwide programme announced by Access All Areas which aims to put learning disabled and autistic people at the heart of cultural leadership.

The team of artists from Access All Areas who will lead the programme themselves took part in a successful Transforming Leadership programme, which finished in 2022.  They are are excited to embark on this new programme which will bring new ideas on who can lead, and how, in UK theatre.  Along with seven disability arts companies and eight UK venues, one of which is Nottingham Playhouse, they aim to make real and practical change and shake up the landscape of arts leadership.

Nottingham Playhouse will partner locally with Unanima Theatre to deliver the programme.  Martin Berry, Director of Participation at Nottingham Playhouse, said:

Nottingham Playhouse are thrilled to be a part of this ground-breaking and hugely important programme.  Access All Areas and Unanima have a wealth of experience and we look forward to building on our own learning, by working in partnership with Unanima and others, to develop properly meaningful leadership and artistic opportunities for learning disabled people.”

Historically, learning disabled and autistic people have been routinely excluded from professional careers, with only 6% of learning disabled people and 30% of autistic people in paid work in the UK. In theatre, TV, and film, learning disabled and autistic people remain dramatically underrepresented on our stages and screens, and disabled experiences are often absent from the stories we tell in our culture.  Access All Areas believe that this will not improve without changes at the top. Without learning disabled and autistic voices being involved in leadership decisions and strategic discussions about what type of art should be made, there will continue to be a lack of genuine representation in the arts.

Part of the programme will focus on directing skills, how to lead community arts programmes, governance, and advocacy skills.  Access All Areas will also train staff in inclusive practice. With so many structural obstacles to inclusion for learning disabled and autistic people in the arts, much of this training will focus on practical solutions to help companies create more accessible workplaces, and to support companies to prepare for learning disabled and autistic leadership at executive and board level. This will include training staff in Access to Work processes, helping staff to understand how the benefits system impacts disabled people in work, and training in 1:1 support methodology.

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