BOP Development exists to create opportunities for disabled people to access the full range of opportunities available for development in the sector. We are aware that disabled people continue to experience barriers at all levels and we work to address these directly and in partnership with other organisations. Our development work is designed to involve disabled people in planning, delivery and evaluation. We create opportunities for skilled and experienced disabled artists to realise our and their creative ideas and also support young people starting out in the arts.
Work with Emerging Disabled artistsTo support the Scottish theatre to be more accessible, and with a need to cast disabled performers in our own productions and co-productions, we recognise our strategic role in supporting emerging disabled artists.
Funding over the past three years has allowed us to structure our work in this area. Initially the Be-BoP Ensemble (2013-2015) created an opportunity for young disabled people with an interest in the performing arts to come together for training and to develop work. This was followed by a nationwide talent search in conjunction with key Scottish theatres – Looking for Talent (2015/16).L4T eventually saw over 200 aspiring performers across the country and through a series of workshop auditions we selected six new actors to be part of a two week performance residency at Summerhall, Edinburgh. Since that time half of our first cohort have gone on to develop their careers professionally and continue to receive our support.
“Be-Bop means a lot to me as it’s allowed me to further my experience in theatre productions”
– Be-BoP participant
It is clear from both these projects was that there is a demand in Scotland for accessible theatre development activities for young people that is not currently being met. To strategically respond to this demand we worked with Time to Shine in 2015/16 to undertake research that examined why D/deaf and disabled young people in Scotland were not accessing existing arts provision. The findings from this Barriers Report were launched at a fully subscribed event on 1st December 2016, the output of which is an action plan to take forward key recommendations.
The research led to us creating an interim post with responsibility for BOP’s creative learning and development work which ran from August 2017 – March 2018. The post engaged with the sector to look at developing provision for disabled young people and other disabled emerging artists to ensure that we are strategically supporting the next generation. Out of this period we established the first cohort of BOP Artists, actioned action identified through Barriers engagement event (including YACs and DET and CPD training), and adopted an approach to seeking development opportunities around all production – Intergenerational Cabaret for Blanche & Butch and schools work with Royal Blind School and St Roch’s with The Tin Soldier.
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