Richard Hayhow introduces the Is That All There Is? conference, promoting a fresh look at work with young people with learning disabilities.

Richard Hayhow

Richard Hayhow and Open theatre work with young people with learning disabilities.

Just think. In Birmingham alone there are 7,000 young people with learning disabilities (ypwld) but on average only 5% of them have any kind of arts provision outside of school. Extrapolate this number to the Midlands, and then to the whole of England. What an enormous opportunity the arts sector has to make real and boundary-breaking change.

That’s why Open Theatre Company is running the Is That All There Is? conference this March. ITATI is a timely provocation for the arts sector to reconsider its provision for ypwld. Over two days we will wrestle with the key issues around how we work in this field and be inspired by some of the country’s leading creative practice.

The arts sector as a whole needs to build on the many excellent examples of work that is created with ypwld, but often happen in isolation, away from the ‘mainstream’. The sector has much to offer in every area of our organisations: we have creative and technical expertise, as well as knowledge of management and administration, and ypwld can be involved in all of these specialisms.

Our conference will address some of the fears and misconceptions on extending access to ypwld and will challenge arts leaders to be more bold. I hope it will be a game-changer in how the arts sector deals with issues of diversity and inclusivity.

Open Theatre Company has worked exclusively with ypwld for many years, forging partnerships and promoting quality work. During this time I’ve witnessed a growing movement within the arts to recognise the importance, value and genuine creativity of ypwld. Change is happening…but there is still a way to go. Working together we can break down some of the barriers and help to create artists of the future who have the potential, in the words of one reviewer, to be ‘definitely and defiantly different’.

Is That All There Is?
9 & 10 March 2016
Birmingham Hippodrome
Tickets £70, £50 concs

More information on the conference and how to book here