A Different Way Symposium 

A Different Way is a ‘show and tell’ project connecting Theatre for Young Audiences with Disabled audiences and artists. It’s about putting the voices of young people at the heart of the creative process and supporting the growth of inclusive theatre for young people. With that in mind we’ve got a big event planned in 2020 and a helpful hashtag for you to engage with in the meantime… read on for all the info!

What’s in a name?

On 29th April 2020 we will be holding our ‘A Different Way Symposium’ at the Attenborough Arts Centre in Leicester. 

Firstly, I’m not happy with the word ‘Symposium’, it just sounds so academic and, if you know me, you definitely know I’m not academic! The event needs to be social and engaging. An event where people can discuss and respectfully disagree, but ultimately move the debate on beyond the usual lip service, to actually working with Disabled artists. We need to move on from just working out what the questions are, to deciding what actions will we take! 

So, whilst I was doing a quick google search for an alternative word, the first thing that popped up was the dictionary definition:

1) a conference or meeting to discuss a particular subject – a collection of essays or papers on a particular subject by a number of contributors.

2) A drinking party or friendly, lively, and enjoyable discussion, especially as held in ancient Greece after a banquet.

Now I know which of these Symposiums I would rather attend… and I’m sure I’m not only one!

But, for now, let’s not worry about the name.

Answering the Questions… NOT asking them!

From attending far too many conferences and discussions debating the role and accessibility of Disabled artists within the arts sector, I always come away frustrated because it’s been the same questions being asked for the last 10 years or more. The only difference has been the people asking them.

This is because, as people, we are all on our own journey to understand what inclusion really means. So, we are all joining the debate at different stages and levels of understanding. This is, in itself, the first challenge we have to address… How can we start from a place of shared understanding?

Therefore we’ve decided that when people book a ticket for the “drinking party or friendly, lively, and enjoyable discussion”, they will automatically receive a booklet with answers to questions that are often asked around access and disability. This means we don’t have to spend time answering them on the day and will let us dig deeper into generating solutions. On the day we will also have a drop-in ‘Access Agony Aunt’ for people if they require more specific details.

We may even open the event with an access style ‘pub quiz’, with a prize for the biggest swot!

But this also has a serious side too. If we are to make any impact in supporting, commissioning or programming Disabled-led work for young audiences, we need non-disabled allies in the sector to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us, to understand where we are coming from and to share the responsibility of making that change.

But why wait until April 2020!

With this ethos in mind we will be using the hashtag #ADiffWayToThink to share relevant reports, news items and good practice in the last week of every month between now and April 2020. We’ll try and cover many different subjects such as; ‘Understanding the Social Model of Disability’, “Questions we are afraid to ask’ or ‘The Aesthetics of Access’.

We want this to be an ongoing discussion both ways, so you can also interact with the hashtag by sharing stuff yourself, asking questions or sharing your own experiences…. It doesn’t have to be all one way! 

Our aim is to create a shared understanding before we even start the ancient Greek-inspired symposium in April 2020, We want you involved and to join us as an ally, to share responsibility, collaborate and create solutions. Join us and find #ADiffWayToThink!

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