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Leading disabled artists & cultural leaders send open letter to UK Culture ministers

First Published 10 June 2020, Last Updated 11 June 2020

On Tuesday 9 June, over 100 leading disabled artists and cultural leaders sent an open letter to The Secretary of State for Culture Oliver Dowden MP and devolved UK Culture Ministers, demanding safeguards to protect the future of disability arts in the UK as a consequence of Covid19.

Signatories included high profile disabled creatives including actors Mat Fraser & Nabil Shaban, visual artists Tony Heaton & Ashok Mistry, percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, poet Jamie Hale, broadcasters Samantha Renke & Mik Scarlet, film director Justin Edgar, performer Jess Thom, theatre directors Jenny Sealey, Amit Sharma, & Vici Wreford-Sinnott and Disability Champion for Arts & Culture, Andrew Miller.

The letter warns that the pandemic has magnified inequalities for disabled people working in the creative industries and that many are facing long term shielding, loss of income and invisibility in wider society.

Disabled cultural leaders are calling on the government to extend the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) beyond August, to prioritise involvement of disabled people in cultural policy, to ensure the renewal and recovery of the cultural sector is more inclusive and offers greater access and representation.

The open letter was organised by the new UK Disability Arts Alliance #WeShallNotBeRemoved. The alliance is an emergency response led by disabled people for disabled people working across the UK’s creative industries in every capacity and across artforms.

Andrew Miller, UK Government Disability Champion for Arts & Culture said: “The speed of recovery planning risks excluding many creative disabled people. So it is essential the UK Government ensures cultural renewal is planned inclusively with creative disabled people at its heart”.

#WeShallNotBeRemoved is a forum to advocate, to campaign and support D/deaf, neurodiverse and disabled creative practitioners and organisations through and after Covid19. The aims of the alliance are:

● To ensure a sustainable future for disability and inclusive arts in the UK through and after the pandemic

● To amplify the voices of D/deaf, neurodiverse and disabled creative practitioners & disability arts organisations at a time of crisis for the arts and for disabled people

Membership of #WeShallNotBeRemoved is free, open to all individual D/deaf, neurodiverse and disabled creative practitioners and disability focused organisations operating in the UK’s creative industries. Within a month of forming the alliance has attracted over 350 members.

The open letter was also sent to Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs at The Scottish Government, Lord Dafydd Ellis-Thomas, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport & Tourism at The Welsh Government, Deirdre Hargey, Northern Irish Minister for Communities and Jo Stevens, Shadow Secretary for Culture, Media & Sport.

The open letter and accessible versions, can be found on Graeae Theatre’s website which you can access by clicking here.


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We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

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In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

For more than 40 years, TKTS was our on-the-day theatre ticket box office in Leicester Square. Currently closed due to the current situation, we are now selling our great last minute seats and prices online. Click here to learn more.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.