BOP’s Disability Equality Training has been developed by a disabled-led team that have many years of combined experience delivering dynamic and comprehensive equalities and organisational development training.

Training is underpinned by extensive knowledge of equality and access within the arts sector as well as the core issues that impact on our understanding of how we view disability and think about equality within society.

BOP Training is tailored to address different areas of activity, staff concerns and outcomes. From customer care and Front of House through to the boardroom and governance, we can guide you through training that builds confidence and knowledge to inform action.  We have experience of working across the arts and in non-arts and corporate settings.

We take an approach to equalities that focusses on barrier removal as a way to create a more equal environment.  While our expertise lies in certain equality strands we are able to give you tools to addressing issues across the main equalities groups.

What is DET?

Disability Equality Training differs greatly from disability awareness training. Awareness training aims to provide knowledge about disabled people and their impairments and tends to focus on advice that is impairment specific.  DET on the other hand is disability-led and looks at disability from a cultural context, building knowledge and confidence.  Our DET training covers as a baseline:

  • Facts and figures – contextualising disabled people in society and within the arts
  • Equalities legislation – how this has developed, the impacts developments have had, how UK legislation compare with other countries and how is it placed within EU and human rights contexts. Including up to date information on The Equality Act
  • Models of disability – ways of looking at how society thinks about disability and how this informs attitudes and approaches
  • Language – exploring the origins and how we use it today – building confidence and skills
  • Stereotypes – where these come from and what impact they have.
  • Exploring approaches and getting practical – creating a more accessible environment and experience for disabled people

a wee note to say a cracking w/shop – very few occasions I can sit for 3 hours absorbed and interested –   very useful and good learning – thank you for organising. – Participant from training with National Lottery Community Fund

Training Formats

All training can be adapted. Training is always delivered by two trainers.

Training Half Day Full day
Core DET Min 3 hour session – for front line/customer care/box office staff More in depth DET and practical application/working through scenarios
Equalities planning Half day session to reflect on and develop current plans Leave the day with the outline structure of an Equality Action Plan or with new insight to your current plans.
Organisational development Can include legislation briefing to Boards Full organisation days with Robert and Mairi and follow up support
Consultation Services Bespoke consultation to fit your outcomes
Access Audits Site visit + Report write up

Get in touch to enquire about costs.

Feedback from past participants

“Surpassed my expectations. Was able to ask the “rookie” questions that I was afraid I’d have to ask. The atmosphere and openness was truly conducive to productive learning. Excellent value for money.”

“The most successful thing was that I felt challenged by some of the exercises and kept thinking after the training was finished. It felt to me that the training really ‘got through’ to me. I also felt inspired and wanted to pass on what I’d learned.”

Since 2017 we have been the official Disability Equality Trainers for Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the associated venues that make up the festival – other organisations the team have trained include: Edinburgh International Book Festival; Edinburgh International Festival; V&A Dundee; Scotland + Venice; Federation of Scottish Theatre and its members; National Theatre of Scotland; engage Scotland; Tron Theatre; Wigtown Book Festival; Edinburgh Festival City Theatres Trust; Dance Base; Summerhall; The Touring Network and its members; The Fruitmarket Gallery; Central School of Speech and Drama; Marriot Hotels; Onassis Cultural Centre Athens; Culture Republic and its members; BT Murrayfield Stadium; Glasgow Warriors.

Meet The Trainers

BOP has a team of experienced trainers who can deliver bespoke training tailored to the needs of your organisation.

Robert Gale and Mairi Taylor previously trained together from 2010 – 2016 as co founders and directors of flip – Disability Equality in the Arts.  They have now brought their experience into Birds of Paradise to build a resource for the arts sector in Scotland.


Robert Gale is Artistic Director/CEO of BOP and is an established figure in the Scottish arts scene, with over 14 years of experience in diverse and varied roles – including disability rights activist, actor and performer, writer, artistic director and supporter and advocate of equality of access to the arts for disabled people whether as artists or audiences.  Robert’s professional acting debut was with Theatre Workshop (Edinburgh) in ‘Nothing Ever Burns Down By Itself’ in 2002 and since then has appeared in many productions and has developed his own artistic practice – most recently instigating, co-writing and performing in ‘Girl X’ for the National Theatre of Scotland, directed by Pol Heyvaert of Belgium’s Campo. In 2011 he was awarded and undertook a Creative Scotland residency which allowed him to develop ‘If These Spasms Could Speak.  A graduate of Glasgow University with an MSc (Hons) in Business & Management, Robert was a co-founder and director of flip – disability equality (2010-2017) in the arts which worked across Scotland to support individuals and organisations in the arts sector.

Mairi Taylor is Executive Producer / Head of Sector Development at BOP. She began her arts and equalities career in arts and mental health through the Arts Advocacy Project in Dundee and Stepps Mental Health Charity, Edinburgh.  From 2003 – 2008 she worked at Artlink Edinburgh and the Lothians where she grew the audience development role within the Arts Access Service.  Mairi left Artlink to take on the project management of the Federation of Scottish Theatre’s national Access Project 2008-2010.

In 2010 Mairi established flip – Disability Equality in the Arts with Robert Gale. Over 7 years flip worked with organisations across Scotland, UK and Europe supporting the development of better equalities practices. Mairi has experience of working with theatres, galleries and museums and with a range of audiences. In 2010 – 2012 Mairi was the Project Coordinator for engage Scotland’s access project – Everyone – and worked with galleries across Scotland to embed disability into their strategic plans. During the last 5 years working with Robert as flip, Mairi has lead on some of flip’s research and development projects including VI Scotland’s AHRC Knowledge Exchange research and the National Theatre of Scotland’s NESTA project.  Mairi also works as a producer, producing If These Spasms Could Speak (a run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, a Scottish Tour and International touring), with the young company Creative Electric in Edinburgh and with disabled artists Aidan Moesby and Pum Dunbar on their Unlimited R&D commission Fragmenting the Codex. Mairi believes that building relationships – whether with audiences, partners or collaborators – brings about real change through increased confidence and understanding. Mairi has a BFA MA Hons Oxon from the Ruskin (1999) and an MFA from Duncan of Jordanstone (2003).

Michelle Rolfe works as Producer at BOP. Her career focus is on increasing access for audience members and arts professionals alike. This is reflected by her work within BOP and her independent projects. Where she is currently working on a piece supported by the National Theatre of Scotland. As Producer at BOP she ensures the smooth running of day to day activities and communications for productions. This involves contracting freelance staff, managing budgets, booking tour venues, ensuring company access requirements are met, managing production contacts etc. Michelle also enjoys supporting BOPs project work and delivering training within the UK & internationally. Michelle’s previous work has included working within producing, programming, access consultancy, marketing, box office management, sales and stage management. She has worked with several national organisations included Shape Arts, Traverse Theatre, Dundee Rep, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Falkirk Community Trust and Graeae. Michelle holds a BA (hons) from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance and a PGCert from Queen Margaret University.

Callum Madge began working in Scottish arts as the Creative Administrator for Lung Ha Theatre Company – a company for performers with a learning disability. Since then Callum has worked with Robert and Mairi as the Project Assistant for flip Artists – a nine-month initiative that worked to provide disabled artists the assistance they might need to work on their creative projects, and as an Assistant and Disability Equality Trainer for flip, Disability Equality in the Arts. Callum is now the Engagement Manager for Birds of Paradise, working on Learning and Outreach projects and leading on the delivery of Access Scottish Theatre – a listings guide of accessible performances across Scotland.

Callum has undertaken freelance work for Lyceum Theatre, Traverse Theatre, Usher Hall and Filmhouse, and worked as the Project Coordinator on Limitless, an initiative looking at ways to engage people with autism in the arts, in association with National Theatre of Scotland, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, National Autistic Society and NHS. Callum is also part of Upfront Performance Network, a network of people working to increase the involvement within performance for audiences and artists with neurodiversity.