Bradford-based Mind the Gap is one of Europe’s largest learning disability theatre companies. This year, they have been conducting a new project which focuses on getting people with learning disabilities employed in the arts.
Working with five partner venues, including Leeds Playhouse and Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax, the Staging Change project has so far employed four interns, each with a learning disability, to work on a new outdoor project for 2019 called Zara.
The roles of the interns are Assistant Producer, Assistant Director, Researcher and Creative Engagement Facilitator. Deborah Dickinson, Associate Producer at Mind the Gap, explains:
“Mind the Gap has always created work with learning disabled artists – not just for them; it’s where we differ from many others. We strive to ensure it is their voice that is heard and their stories that are told, so having people with learning disabilities on the production team is hugely important to this new project.”
While Mind the Gap has previously provided paid supported employment for performers, this is the first time the company has employed learning disabled workers in wider roles.
Paul Wilshaw was successful in securing the role of Assistant Producer: “I have worked in theatre for 20 years as an artist, facilitator and producer. I’ve been lucky enough to secure funding and grants to be able to make work, but it’s not easy for people with learning disabilities. The work Mind the Gap do challenges this and I’m delighted to be working with the team on this exciting project, and hopefully more in the future.”
Staging Change is a new leadership programme, made possible through Mind the Gap’s Arts Council England NPO funding and Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, based around dynamic three-way partnerships between Mind the Gap, arts venues and learning disabled artists.
Find out more about Staging Change and Mind the Gap’s work at mind-the-gap.org.uk.