Thanks To You – Our Impact in 2018

With the end of the year approaching, it feels like the perfect time to look back on the impact Diverse City has made this year and to say a huge thank you to all the people who have helped us make it happen. If you have donated to us directly or through the National Lottery’s Life Changing scheme, here is what you have actively supported in 2018.

Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists inspired integrated youth performing arts across the UK

This summer, the EBYA team traveled the UK as part of major theatre projects modelling inclusion in performing arts training. Our team of young artists assisted sessions of The Inclusive Rehearsal Room in an alliance with Ramps On The Moon. EBYA then travelled to Birmingham as the only integrated youth company to take part in For / With / By, an outstanding Festival Of European Youth Theatre at The Rep. They helped young theatre makers and theatre professionals from across Europe to see where equality in the arts begins by performing their show Becoming to over 240 audience members.

“It was fabulous to watch new relationships emerge between young people who live miles away from each other. It was really incredible and heart warming to listen to young people’s reflections on Europe, what it means to be European in the UK at this unique political time, and to witness the theatre that is being made as a result” 

Eilís Davis, EBYA Artistic Director

We collaborated on a co-production of The Elephant Man

This year, in another unlikely alliance, we became Bristol Old Vic’s new Associate Company and co-produced a new take on Bernard Pomerance’s classic, The Elephant Man. This three way collaboration between the venue, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and Diverse City was led by our Joint Artistic Director, Jamie Beddard, who played lead character Merrick. Our impact was felt on stage, off stage and in the audience with rehearsal visits from Diverse City associate Hannah Treadaway, adaptations made in physical set design, integration of creative captioning across all performances; and relaxed, audio described and signed performances throughout the run.

“Jamie Beddard’s portrayal of Merrick is a stellar performance, capturing the hearts of the audience, but stopping short of seeking pity (…) Beddard is Diverse City’s co-artistic director and – as a disabled actor – set out to “reclaim the role”, something he achieves with aplomb” 

Bristol 24/7

“As a disabled person I felt welcomed and that my needs had been anticipated. I attended a relaxed, signed, captioned and audio described performance and it was great to see so many people from the disabled community enjoying their theatre visit. Thank you” 

Audience member

Extraordinary Bodies’ show What Am I Worth? toured across the UK and Ireland.

Extraordinary Bodies, our collaboration with Cirque Bijou, finished a year long development of What Am I Worth? and performed the show to over 8,600 people over the summer. The show was made in alliance with 150 people from across the UK and Ireland. The show demonstrated how live accessible performance can reflect the world as it actual is in all its diversity. Every performance included a local community cast, integrated live audio description, sign language interpretation with touch tours available. Performances took place in Carlow Arts Festival, Tall Ships Sunderland, Glasgow’s Merchant City Festival aka Festival 2018 and, last but not least, London’s National Theatre River StageWhat Am I Worth? featured in BBC4’s documentary Daredevils and Divas and in 2019 we will develop the show further, ready for touring in 2020 and 2021.

We led our second Doing Things Differently State of The Nation event

In April 2018, in our alliance with Bristol City Council, we returned to the themes and manifesto of Doing Things Differently 2016. A wide range of organisations led everyone through their learning about the successes and challenges of creating equality in the arts in Bristol and the South West. Our next step is to create an online map of the changes that are being made, the resources that can be shared and the support that is needed to ensure that we keep the conversation going. Watch this space.

“Thanks again for a great event yesterday – I came away inspired / overwhelmed / excited / knackered! (which I think are all good signs!)

Raquel Meseguer

We started making a new show in Dorset

Joint Artistic Director, Claire Hodgson, has kick started a new show this year called Mid Life, which challenges the assumptions and expectations of middle age and provides an alternative vision post menopause. The show is currently in research and development in Dorset where we are the region’s biggest National Portfolio Organisation. Diverse City already employs five people in Dorset, now Mid Life brings artists and theatre professionals from across the UK to work in the region.

“Dorset’s local economy is being supported through our work – it’s a way of giving back”

Claire Hodgson

Our impact has been diverse and exciting throughout this incredible year and we are extremely grateful to all of our allies near and far.  Here goes – a big thank you from the whole Diverse City team. We look forward to growing the movement for change in the performing arts in 2019!

If you would like to become a valuable ally and support us in further developing our impact in 2019, donate here.

Photo credits: Dom Moore for the blog post’s feature image – 2018, Mark Douet for The Elephant Man – 2018, Alexa Ledecky for What Am I Worth? and Mid Life – 2018?