Youth Arts Consultants

Keen to be more accessible to disabled people?

The YACs can help

​Follow this link for a full transcript of the above video

What the heck are YACs? 🤔

The Youth Arts Consultants (YACs) are a group of young disabled artists who have been trained by BOP to provide accessibility consultancy to the sector, to improve the accessibility for disabled people in engaging in arts activities. Examples of what the YACs can do for you include:

    YACs Elliot and Hannah at a workshop on making spaces accessible with architecture students from Glasgow School of Art

  • Access audits: make sure that your services (online, print or physical spaces) are accessible to people with a range of impairments. The YACs will produce a report with a range of necessary/recommended changes.
  • Alt-texting: images online are only accessible to blind/visually impaired people if they have an alt-text description. The YACs can go through your website and add this in for you.
  • Question portal: if you have a question about the accessibility of any of the service you offer, you can ask the YACs directly through the online question portal. No question is too big, small or silly, there are literally no wrong questions. There may be no right answers!

To engage the YACs in an access audit or an alt-texting job, please email Callum Madge on Prices are negotiable depending on the size of the job. Using the question portal is free and questions can be submitted directly into it.

Previous clients include: Glasgow School of Art; National Theatre of Scotland; Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – Widening Access to the Creative Industries department; Youth Theatre Arts Scotland; Magnetic North; Youth Theatre Ireland; Edinburgh Performing Arts Development.


Amy McAinsh

I am 25 and I have been involved with Birds of Paradise since 2013. In 2016 I participated in the Access to Barriers event. I then became a Youth Arts Consultant. I am very passionate about the work I do as I feel that accessibility is essential in all areas. As a blind person I have first hand experience of having access needs and facing barriers associated with them.

Anna-Karolina Richardson

Anna-Karolina’s professional background is in box office and customer service with a passionate focus on equality and diversity. Her interests are informed by her lived experience of physical disability and mental illness, specifically access barriers for people with anxiety, depression and invisible illnesses. She is very excited to be working with Birds of Paradise to open up the joy of theatre to all!

Elliot Cooper

Elliot Cooper is a disabled artist and academic living in Glasgow. He is very attuned to discussion within Disability Studies and access advocacy work. Elliot is a wheelchair user, with some coordination and dexterity differences who tends to access his online media without the usage of a mouse.

Georgia Dunn

Hello, I’m Georgia and I am really excited to be a YAC. I hope to make the entire experience of going to the theatre a more inclusive, welcoming and safer space. I am a member of the performance company Creative Electric where I have made autobiographical work about my own identity. BOP has been a massive inspiration to me and has helped continue my confidence in the theatre scene and my own practice as a performance maker and I hope that my experience can be helpful to others across the YAC programme.

Hannah Yahya

Hannah graduated from the University of Kent in 2017 with a BA in Drama & Theatre and English literature. Since then she has gone on to work with Graeae and Ramps on The Moon. She now works with an all autistic theatre company called The Stealth Aspies and is currently a member of Scottish Youth Theatre’s National Ensemble.

Sean Gallagher

Sean Gallagher is an Actor, Writer and Disability/Autism Advocate. Based in Inverness he travels around the country adding his oddball charm to a variety of projects. Credits include “Hacks for the future” with National Theatres Futureproof Festival and “Act of Repair” with Scottish Youth Theatre.

Sorcha Pringle

I am a professional community musician, with a particular interest and expertise in the area  of inclusive music practice. I am passionate about accessibility, and a great believer in the value of nurturing every individual’s artistic potential. I have recently   started working with artists from other art-forms, and I am keen to engage in conversations across the arts relating to representation and access.

What are Youth Arts Consultants?

BOP’s Youth Arts Consultants (YACs) are a group of young disabled artists who have been given Disability Equality Training by BOP. The YACs are Amy McAinsh, Elliot Cooper, Jack Nicholson and Poppy Nash. The YACs initiative is to provide a advice and guidance to individuals or organisations that provide arts activities to young people but are finding it difficult to reach young disabled people, or are unsure how to make their activities more accessible to young disabled people. Through an online question portal, people who organise youth arts activities can ask the YACs any questions they might have about how to improve the accessibility of their activities.

YACs are also able to provide accessibility audits of materials that your produce such as websites or print materials. For example, this could mean checking that your online materials are accessible to people who use screen readers, or that your printed materials use inclusive language and contain information that might not be as essential for non-disabled people.

Why have BOP set up the YACs?

In 2015 BOP commissioned a report – Barriers to Access – researching barriers young disabled people experience accessing youth arts provision. You can read more about the findings of the report on our Barriers Page. In December 2015, we launched the report at an event for artists and industry professionals. At that event three priorities were identified as being key in helping dismantle the barriers identified in the report.

    1. Establish young person led resource to advise sector
    1. Establish organisational level network
  1. Form resource to provide CPD and sector training

In addition, we know from the sector development work we have done that organisations and their staff would like more advice and support in working with young disabled people and including them in their work. The YACS have been set up to provide this advice and support to industry professionals.

Recruiting the BOP Youth Arts Consultants

Over the last few years BOP has been researching the barriers that young disabled people face in accessing the arts and youth arts activity.  There have been no great surprises.  For instance, we know that barriers to information and transport can make finding out about activities and simply getting to them challenging.  We also know that while people can have the best intentions about being accessible and inclusive this is not always enough.  Young disabled people can be put off approaching organisations because of how organisations communicate, the language they use or bad past experiences.  

One size does not fit all – everyone has different experiences and different skills.  What BOP would like to do is build knowledge, understanding and skills across the youth arts sector to ensure that young people face less barriers in the future.

Why are BOP looking for youth arts advisers?

BOP is looking for young disabled people that can work with us to offer advice to the sector about creating greater equality of opportunity for young disabled people so that more young people can gain access to youth arts activities.  We want to reduce the barriers and other reasons that may be preventing young disabled people getting involved in activities they would like to engage with.

We think the best way to do this is to work with the people that experience these barriers and to devise solutions and ideas together that we can then pass on to the sector.

In 2018 we will be launching a training project for the sector and our advisers will be crucial to this.

What will you do as a consultant?

You will work with BOP to solve the problems or answer the questions that organisations and the people who work for them ask us.  When BOP has selected five young people who are interested in taking part we will get together – in person or via skype – to talk about the project and to take part in some development training. You will:

    • attend development sessions and meetings in person or via skype
    • stay in touch via email and think about solutions away from meetings
  • plan future ideas for the project with BOP

What will you get out of it?

    • you will gain skills and knowledge around disability equality
    • you will gain skills in project and budget planning
    • you will create your own access statement and think about the barriers you experience and how to mitigate them, which may be useful to you in the future
    • increase your knowledge about the arts sector in Scotland
    • meet new people and arts organisations – you may get more involved by attending activity as the project develops
  • gain experience as an adviser and develop your problem solving and communication skills

Will you cover my costs or pay me?

We will pay our advisers as you will be working for us. We will also cover all travel costs.

You will paid a set fee of ÂŁ80 for attending a development session with us and up to one planning meeting.  You will then be paid for advice you provide based on time taken to answer questions and queries that come to us.  Rates for this will be dictated by our project budget which we will involve you in planning.

When and where will it happen?

BOP is recruiting interested people from mid June to mid July.  We will then meet at the end of July in Glasgow where we are based. BOP will be asking for questions and problems to solve from the sector in roughly the same timeframe.  We will stay in touch, with monthly meeting/virtual meetings for the rest of the year.  We will plan for the the project to be accessible for the consultants, so we will agree the best format and amount of contact time together once the consultants have been selected.  For instance, some people might want to contribute via email and prefer not to meet.

How long will the project last?

We will work together until the start of 2018 as a minimum but BOP is interested in developing Youth Arts Consultants on an ongoing basis.  

I am interested but it doesn’t sound very accessible for me

Please contact us to discuss further.  As this is a new project and a new way of working for us we are still working it out and as much as possible we want to do that with you.

I don’t identify as disabled but I am interested.  What are my options?

We would suggest you get in touch and we have a chat.  It might be there are other ways to get involved.  It might also be helpful to understand how BOP defines disability – click here

How do I apply to take part?

We are looking for people who can evidence:

    • a good working level of IT skills to support communication
    • access to technology and internet to allow us to communicate
  • previous interest in the arts

However, we do not want any of the above to be a barrier so do talk to us if you have concerns.

Being able to articulate ideas will be an important part of being an adviser.  We would like you to write/record to camera max 500 words that cover:

    • why you would like to take part
    • what would you do to improve access to the arts for disabled people – you could think about going to a youth theatre group or a night at the theatre as examples
  • any examples of problem solving or barriers that you have faced that could have been improved

Can you help me to apply?

We are here to offer advice and support about applying but cannot help with making your application.  We will take your application in a format that is accessible to you – writing or recording – so you should be able to do this without our direct help.  It is important that you apply independently because we will need you to communicate with us in the future.

What is the deadline and when will I find out?

DEADLINE FRIDAY 14th July. We will then get back to people by Friday 21st July.  We would like our first meeting to be on the 1st August.