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Graeae announces new initiative to transform the careers of Deaf and Disabled artists across the UK

The scheme was launched today

The cast of Reasons to be Cheerful
© Patrick Baldwin

Theatre company, Graeae, which champions accessibility on stages across the world, has announced plans for a brand new initiative, Beyond, to help augment the careers of aspiring and established Deaf and Disabled creatives.

The scheme involves the creation of a network of partner organisations from the Midlands through to the North East and North West of England to offer development support, advice, training, mentoring and use of creative spaces for Deaf and Disabled artists at every stage of their careers.

The company will partner with Octagon Theatre in Bolton, Curve in Leicester, Nottingham Playhouse, Cast in Doncaster, Hull Truck, Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot, Live Theatre in Newcastle and Northern Stage in Newcastle.

There will be at least 100 hours of mentoring and 600 hours of rehearsal space, as well as mentoring, shadowing opportunities and a new digital toolkit to help support artists.

Artists are invited to enrol now, with information also provided in BSL, audio and easy read formats on the Graeae website.

Patron Harriet Walter said: "Once again Graeae is leading the way in connected and connective thinking with its new artistic development venture - BEYOND. Theatre post-Covid is never going to look the same and Graeae is in the vanguard of re-shaping the future for Deaf and disabled artists. Graeae has always been in the business of knocking down barriers and building bridges and its undaunted optimism is what we all need."

Mat Fraser, Graeae patron said: "At a time when Disability Arts and disabled artists are in danger of regressing because of "Covid fallout", Graeae come forward with this great new initiative for would be disabled creative artists. BEYOND has got many theatres on board, pledging to improve their relationship in real terms with Deaf and disabled creatives. The initiative will hopefully lead to an impressive increase in work by and with Deaf and disabled theatre creatives across the Midlands and North of the UK especially. Applying to the programme could lead to a new you, and even exceed your dreams, to go BEYOND!"

The company's artistic director Jenny Sealey said: "The last few months have been truly terrible and everyone in the arts is struggling to make sense of it all emotionally and economically. There has been a silver lining as we received the news of our Arts Council England Transforming Leadership funding before lockdown and we were acutely aware if we did not act fast starting up with the programme, Deaf and Disabled artists in this current landscape would be absent from artistic conversations, would fall by the wayside and be left behind.

"This is NOT going to happen. I'm so thrilled we're launching this programme now, giving Deaf and disabled artists the space, time and money they need to have the artistic breakthroughs that they deserve. We are working with our brilliant partner theatres, some new to the Graeae family and others who it's great to be working with again. Together, we are well and truly going BEYOND!"