Creative Minds: A Better Generation

Birmingham conference aims to improve arts access for disabled youngsters.

To celebrate their growing impact on the national arts scene, young learning disabled arts activists will lead a conference with a difference at the mac on 4th October.

“We want to pave the way to the future about how learning disabled artists can collaborate with non-disabled people in the arts,” says Madeleine Levy of Alternative Voices.

Creative Minds is a national movement initiated and led by artists and performers with learning disabilities eager to get their voices heard and their talents seen by a wider arts audience.

The fifth regional event takes place at mac Birmingham, produced by Brighton-based Carousel with lead partner Open Theatre Company, in partnership with key regional organisations: BecauseWeCanCanCan, Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Rep, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Culture Coventry, Freefall Dance Company, LEVEL (Derbyshire) and Spectra.

A day of taking action and doing, it opens with a performance journey led by Spectra, specialists in multi-sensory immersive theatre.

There’ll be provocations by artists from Open Theatre, Alternative Voices (Birmingham) and Hubbub Theatre Company (Derby) as well as creative interactions between artists with and without learning disabilities. Delegates are invited to watch films, interact with sculpture and take part in a theatre workshop. Speakers for the afternoon include Nick Priest, actor with the RSC and visual artist Tanya Raabe-Webber interviews Rory Baird, artist and member of BecauseWeCanCanCan, whose work is exhibited at the venue.

“In Birmingham alone,” says Richard Hayhow of Open Theatre, “there are 7,000 young people with learning disabilities, but on average only 5% of them have any kind of arts provision outside of school. Extrapolate this number to the Midlands, and then to the whole of England. What an enormous opportunity the arts sector has to make real and boundary-breaking change.”

Bethan Ball is Creative Enabler at BecauseWeCanCanCan, the Birmingham based company of emerging young artists with learning disabilities, co-run by its members in partnership with Open Theatre Company and Birmingham Hippodrome. She says “Our members are arts activists, determined to create a better generation. This event is about changing perceptions and taking action; and these young emerging artists are on a mission to instigate that change.”

Company member Vicki Taylor explains, “We’re going to express what we do and offer suggestions about ways that people can include us.”

Tickets, price £35, are available here