An emergency response led by disabled people for disabled people working across the UK’s creative industries has launched, with the aim of advocating, campaigning and supporting D/deaf, neurodiverse and disabled creative practitioners and organisations through and after Covid-19.

#WeShallNotBeRemoved will promote a sustainable future for disability and inclusive arts in the UK, through and after the pandemic. It will also amplify the voices of D/deaf, neurodiverse and disabled creative practitioners and disability arts organisations at a time of crisis for the arts and for disabled people.

Over 150 individual disabled creative practitioners, disability arts organisations and those that work inclusively, from across the four UK nations, across artforms and across impairment groups have already joined.

These include: Graeae Theatre, Candoco, Unlimited, Drake Music, Hijinx, Shape Arts, Museums DCN, British Paraorchestra, HeartnSoul, TourettesHero, University of Atypical, Access All Areas, Disability Arts Cymru, Birds of Paradise, Attitude is Everything, poet Jamie Hale, playwright ​Vici Wreford-Sinnott, ​theatre directors Nickie Wildin & Amit Sharma, actor Jamie Beddard, arts consultant Michele Taylor and musician John Kelly.

The key priorities of the​ #WeShallNotBeRemoved ​alliance are:

  • To ensure D/deaf, neurodiverse & disabled artists and arts organisations are integral to the reshaping of UK culture through and after Covid19
  • To ensure inclusive principles remain at the heart of public funding strategies in all 4 UK nations to support our sector and the next generation of D/deaf and disabled talent
  • To promote the interests of emerging, mid-career and established D/deaf and disabled artists in a radically changed cultural landscape
  • To promote greater intersectionality within disability arts to reflect the breadth of our diversity
  • To campaign for greater inclusion in wider society to catalyse and support the existing disability movement to influence government policy on health, social care and benefits
  • To provide a new space for D/deaf and disabled creative practitioners to contribute ideas and solutions, initiate conversations and to signpost opportunities on a dedicated Slack platform and monthly Zoom meetings

The alliance is actively seeking additional members to ensure it reflects the full diversity of disabled people working in creative industries.

Jo Verrent, Senior Producer of commissions programme Unlimited, commented: “Isolated and increasingly ignored by many, disabled people in the cultural sector are at risk of losing everything we’ve gained over the last 40 years. #WeShallNotBeRemoved has given us a place to meet, to shelter, share and reimagine. We MUST be at the centre of the cultural sector to come, one that is both physical and virtual, includes all and excludes no one.”

Andrew Miller, UK Government Disability Champion for Arts and Culture added: “Coronavirus threatens not only the existence of our national culture as we’ve known it but also the health, creativity and civil rights of disabled people. Many of us face long-term shielding and therefore risk invisibility to wider society. So it is essential that we come together as one creative disabled community to ensure we are not left behind, but instead shape and reset the coming cultural recovery inclusively.”

Membership of ​#WeShallNotBeRemoved ​is​ ​free, open to all individual D/deaf, neurodiverse and disabled creative practitioners and disability focused organisations operating in UK arts, museums and film. Anyone interested in joining the alliance should email ​[email protected]

Zoom meeting convened by Andrew Miller, UK Government Disability Champion for Arts and Culture, in April with disabled artists and arts organisations to explore working together to meet the new challenges and barriers facing disabled people working across the UK’s creative industries.

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