The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, has appointed Ali Briggs as Agent for Change with a remit to create better opportunities for disabled artists and disabled people in the eastern region.
Access is one of the New Wolsey Theatre's core principles and in recent years this has been evidenced in a number of collaborations and co-productions with Graeae, programming work by disabled artists and in the provision of participatory opportunities within its Creative Learning offer. Earlier this year, The New Wolsey and Graeae toured the UK with Reasons to be Cheerful, a high-energy coming of age tale that celebrates the infectious music of Ian Dury and the Blockheads. This new musical was first performed in autumn 2010 at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich and Theatre Royal Stratford East. The revival was nominated for two TMA awards; The Best Touring Production Award and also for The Renee Stepham Award for Best Presentation of Touring Theatre.
Now, with Ali Briggs in post as Agent for Change, the New Wolsey plans to extend its engagement with disability arts and artists in the eastern region and to provide a support network for artists and arts organisations.
Sarah Holmes, New Wolsey Chief Executive;
"We have made enormous headway but with Ali on board we can achieve so much more. Ali will actively engage with disabled artists throughout the region and we will work together to create new opportunities to develop and tour work. Our aim is to change the way people think about disabled artists and to change the way our industry responds to disabled artists. The success of the Paralympics proves this can be achieved. We know the talent exists. With Ali's help we will enable it to flourish."
Sarah hopes to grow the number of disabled people involved in the arts, including those entering training or the arts profession, and to achieve a long term impact on the representation of disabled art and artists in this region through promoting opportunity and by brokering relationships between individuals and organisations.
"I am delighted to be joining the winners of the TMA Award for Most Welcoming Theatre and excited about working together to create change. I am a deaf actor - my passion is for theatre both on stage and as an audience member. I am committed to passing on that passion and making sure that deaf and disabled people are visible and have equal access to all of it. We have just had a fabulous year with the 2012 Paralympics and of course the New Wolsey co-production of Reasons To Be Cheerful with Graeae. l am now looking forward to finding even more reasons to be cheerful in 2013."
Ali takes up the position in January 2013 and will be keen to make contact with disabled artists, venues keen to support work by disabled artists, organisations and groups already working with disabled artists and anyone who may be able to assist the objectives of the position. Please email if you want to get involved and have input.
Claudia West, Arts Council England, Relationship Manager Theatre;
"With the opening ceremony for the 2012 Paralympic Games fresh in everyone's minds, it's fantastic to see an arts organisation really challenging itself to ensure that there are no barriers for disabled individuals to engage with its activities. The New Wolsey Theatre already has a fantastic track record for working with and supporting disabled performing artists. This exciting new appointment opens the door for the theatre to take this work even further, championing inclusive practice in the arts both in the region and beyond.''