Scotland

Rethink urged over cuts to disabled theatre funding

Blanche & Butch Image copyright Tommy Ga-Ken Wan
Image caption Birds of Paradise and the Tron Theatre presented Blanche & Butch in September last year

Activists for disability rights have signed an open letter to Creative Scotland calling for a rethink of cuts to theatre companies which specialise in work for disabled people.

Birds of Paradise and Lung Ha were among 20 organisations told last week they would no longer receive regular funding.

The letter said the sector deserved more support, not less.

Creative Scotland said it was fully committed to diversity.

The latest round of arts funding was announced last week.

Image copyright Mihaela Bodlovic
Image caption Birds of Paradise's production of the Tin Solider was staged in Edinburgh in December

Glasgow-based Birds of Paradise is Scotland's only professional disability-led arts organisation. The Lung Ha Theatre company, based in Edinburgh, works with people with learning disabilities.

The open letter to Janet Archer, chief executive officer of Creative Scotland, has been organised by a collective of disabled people from across Scotland.

It has been signed by 50 people and calls on the funding body to think again about the cuts to these organisations.

Future funding options

It said: "The fantastic work undertaken by Birds of Paradise and Lung Ha in recent years has supported emerging disabled artists, promoted disability equality and ensured that the stories of disabled people form part of Scotland's diverse arts scene.

"We urge you to reconsider these decisions and, in doing so, demonstrate leadership in ensuring the arts remains inclusive for all - including disabled people."

Jamie Szymkowiak, from the One in Five campaign who co-ordinated the letter, added: "I can't write and campaign about disabled people's representation and see two of Scotland's leading theatre companies lose their funding without a fight.

"We're looking at organising a demonstration against these cuts should the letter not have the desired effect. I hope this letter shows the strength of feeling across Scotland's disabled community and leads Creative Scotland to reverse their decision."

Creative Scotland said it was "fully committed to diversity and supports disabled artists".

It has committed funding to both companies until the end of September and said it would meet them to discuss future funding options.

A second open letter has also been sent to Creative Scotland calling for a rethink on funding cuts.

More than 70 technicians and production staff signed the letter calling for a reinstatement of funding for the children's company Catherine Wheels.

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