Para-Power to the arts: Disability is Art

Charitable organisations embrace inclusivity in order to create opportunities for disabled people within arts as number of participants decreases.

Following the success of the Paralympics, which celebrated the valuable contributions made by disabled people, it is time to focus on what opportunities cities, such as Cardiff, can provide in order to both develop and celebrate these contributions.

Organisations such as Disability Arts Cymru and Hijinx do just that. These charities aim to provide these opportunities as they believe “that Disabled and Deaf People have an exciting and valuable contribution to make to the arts in Wales”.

With this in mind, Hijinx, who are based in the Wales Millennium Centre, set up an academy in Cardiff in order to provide a “professional performance training course for actors with learning disabilities in Wales”. As a result Hijinx have now set up three more training academies throughout, Wales with a fourth due to open in Aberystwyth later this year.

Wales Millennium Centre - Home of Hijinx

Wales Millennium Centre – Home of Hijinx

Both organisations focus on the idea of “inclusivity” within arts and the view that all arts “should be accessible”. They call it “inclusive theatre” as it offers those that are often overlooked a platform. In order to ensure this Hijinx held their ninth annual international “Unity Festival”, which invites performers from around the world to showcase their skills.

Opportunities such as this are deemed vital by members of schemes such as The Cross Keys College Learning Support Scheme. Abbie Andrews, a certified previous member states that “performing arts provides a form of escapism for people with disability. Whilst also offering them the opportunity to embrace their independence”.

However, the most recent Annual Equality Report from the Arts Council of Wales shows that although arts for disabled people held the largest number of events, the number of people both attending and participating in these events has decreased significantly.

Nevertheless, we need to continue “to pioneer, produce and promote stunning inclusive theatre”.