By Faye Meacham

Meet the practitioners-

Richard Hayhow of Open Theatre

Madeleine Levy of Alternative Voices

Rachel Wolffsohn- The OHMI Trust

Hannah Prentice – TIC

Kris Halpin- Singer/Songwriter

Full of creatives eager to learn about arts & disability, this months ART/IST Tuesday was not to be missed! Beginning with a non-verbal icebreaker from Richard Hayhow he encouraged everyone in the room to feel free to move, free to express and communicate with each other through a paired non-verbal movement activity.

Strange and groundbreaking, the mi.Mu gloves became a focus of Kris’s introduction. Electronic gloves that allow you to interact with your computer remotely using hand gestures! Insanely creative! Gestural artificial intelligence! They are a part of Kris’s art form which is influenced by metal and rock genres and travel with him around the world!

Kris has cerebral palsy which affects his walking and his right hand is impaired. Playing the guitar became progressively difficult over time, and accessibility within the music scene became a challenge. “The music industry is a big horrible yucky pile of ableism”! Kris faced many challenges trying to pursue his music career but continued to pursue his dream in face of adversity!

Reaching out to a charity based in London called Drake Music which helps people with disabilities access the creative scene, Kris was introduced to new technologies and Imogen Heap. Pursuing an electronic music career however feeling that she could not perform her art imaginatively and interestingly she initiated the design of the wearable instrument- the mi.Mu gloves by which Kris was granted a pair to try out! Kris is working on a new tour which will begin in 2019 and he is making sure he performs in his hometown of Birmingham for the first time!

Finding adaptive musical instruments for people with a physical disability is at the heart of the work of the OHMI Trust founded in 2011 and based in Birmingham. Rachel Wolffsohn manages this amazing Trust! Rachel expressed that there are few opportunities for adults to engage within theatre and the arts, especially with a learning disability. One of the many success stories of the OHMI was of a saxophone teacher that devastatingly suffered a stroke which meant the loss of use in one hand. However, working alongside the OHMI trust a one-handed saxophone was made available which enabled the artist to continue his passion for saxophone playing!

Born with a condition or acquiring a condition, the OHMI trust strives to help such people and find most of the instruments through competitions. Criteria for the competition- a conventional instrument must be playable using one hand, equipment and apparatus such as stands being made to ensure accessibility and ease of playing and finally a concept category for innovative ideas that will need further development.

The OHMI provides scope for various art forms to be experienced by all! Rachel compared the supported and recognised Paralympics to the music industry. Where is such support and opportunities for disabled creatives? It is yet to surge!

Alternative voices provide accessibility for all creatives to enjoy performing which Madeleine Levy formulated, alongside training to become an occupational therapist! Aiming to change health policies for the better with a loud voice! She is a creative force to be reckoned with! Go, Madeleine!

TIC provides education for all regarding turrets through creative engagement, Hannah Prentice leads the way! Removing the stigma around turrets is very important to Hannah’s work! Delivering workshops around creativity and work, alongside creating TICzine’s, turrets related content and information in an alternative magazine format and TIC blogs all provide support, opportunities and information about turrets. Hannah is along the way to creating a documentary and shows how humour can bring people of differences together and help self-expression.

Richard focused on the importance of partnerships and working collaboratively and embedding their practice within organisations such as The Hippodrome, The Birmingham Repertory Theatre and schools. Gaining recent status as a National Portfolio organization, Open Theatre has expanded which is great news!

All attendees had the privilege of viewing ‘Juke & Lake’ a devised piece of theatre from Jake Jarvis and Luke Greenwood, members of Open Theatre which were humorous, fun and utterly engaging!

A Day in the Life Of… all of the practitioners agreed that there was not one day the same with the work they practice. How amazing! Mentioned were: delivering workshops, planning, devising, producing, administration, attending meetings, delivering talks! A career full of diversity, challenges but utter fulfilment!

And we must not forget… SpOt Drama! They performed one of their popular activities with everyone present which demonstrated being a drama facilitator and a facilitator in role. Super fun! SpOt “offer drama for ALL no matter their age or ability”!

Check them and their work out below!

Also “ The Gloves Are On’ – find out more about Kris’s journey and his magical gloves!

ART/ist Tuesdays always offer such inspiration and food for thought! Leading you to think…

What is my calling?

What creative change and journey do I wish to create and carve?

The Graduated Unleashed team can’t wait to see you at their next event!

Arts & Education- 22nd January 2019

(Visit the Graduates Unleashed Facebook page to book your ticket)!

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