6 February 2016 3-6.30pm

D&D Vault Fest: How Can We Better Support Artists With Learning

Disabilities Or Autism In Making Their Own Work?

The Vaults Leake Street, South Bank, London SE1 7NN


Hello there, we are Cian Binchy and Nick Llewellyn from Access all Areas theatre.

This is not the usual token catch all ‘access’ provocation here. We are tired of the access

agenda being about artists with physical and sensory impairments. Can you name a

leading learning disabled artist that really has made it? Look at Unlimited, look at the

Live Art Development Agency’s Access all Areas programme and you will barely see

any learning disabled artists.

Why is that? Because it means that the non learning disabled theatre world has to work

alongside learning disabled artists to support them for a longer duration of time with a

person centred approach and it seems that no one can be bothered. Not enough training in

‘autism’ or ‘communication’ or ‘challenging behaviour.’ But are learning disabled artists

that medicalised? We really don’t think its that hard or complicated….If you are creative

then you can work it out!

We are excited when a real mix of people from different experiences come together to

produce theatre and we believe that the theatre is richer for this. Non disabled theatre

makers can support learning disabled artists as ongoing creative enablers and when this

balance is struck, everyone benefits from this creative collaboration.

We are also tired of ‘special needs’ and ‘relaxed’ performances. What happens when a

person with ‘special needs’ gets past 25, do they just disappear? Why is no one awake to

such an amazing opportunity to work with artists who may see the world differently and

create new and exciting performances outside of the usual mould?

We think there are lots of people out there who are:

• Really wanting to work with artists with learning disabilities and autism but have

been too frightened to ask those tricky questions.

• Bored with artists with university qualifications and wanting to engage with

people who society has deemed as useless.

• Looking to explore the challenges around ongoing support but have out of the

box ideas on how we can do this.

• Waking up to a realisation that the austerity agenda is not just about cuts to the

arts but about cuts to learning disabled people’s services and feel a

responsibility to get this message out there.

• A nice person and realise that the theatre world has ignored a group of people

for too long and want to do something about it.

We encourage anyone who has questions, ideas, dreams, projects or problems around

working with learning disabled artists to come along and share your thoughts. Please

don’t fear ‘getting it wrong.’ We finally want to see things change and come up with long

term solutions together!

See ya there!

Cian and Nick

Access all Areas are a theatre company based in east London that train and enable

artists with learning disabilities to make exciting devised theatre and performance. We

run a Performance Making Diploma course at Royal Central School of Speech and

Drama and won the Guardian University Award this year for Student Diversity. Cian and

I worked together to create ‘The Misfit Analysis’ having received great reviews in

Edinburgh and are playing here at Vault Festival.

Booking for this event has now closed.