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Applied Theatre grad’s work to make arts more accessible

Wednesday 04 October 2023

Applied Theatre grad’s work to make arts more accessible

Motivated by her passion for creating accessibility in the arts, Applied Theatre and Community Drama graduate Tia Elvidge has developed multiple initiatives in her hometown of Nottingham, with a key aim of making drama and theatre accessible to young people, regardless of their support needs.  

The 2019 graduate is now the Participation Project Producer at Nottingham Playhouse, through which she manages a host of participatory programmes, including an immersive multi-sensory workshop designed for children with profound and multiple learning disabilities. 

We caught up with Tia to learn more about her work. 

Why is participatory arts important to you?  

"Participatory arts can be anything for anyone. It can be political - amplifying voices and stories; it can be a chance to have shared experiences; to have fun for an hour; and a tool to bring learning to life. Often participatory arts are people's first experience of theatre, that can inspire them to take up a lifelong hobby or even pursue it as a career, like I have." 

Why have you chosen to focus on projects for young people with learning disabilities? 

"My brother is autistic and it always shocked me how little provision there is for anyone who is learning disabled and has an interest in drama. When I started working at Nottingham Playhouse, I made it my mission to start a dedicated Young Company for autistic and learning disabled young people and I'm very proud to say that this vision will be a reality from September."

Can you tell me more about your multi-sensory workshops? 

"They’re possibly the most rewarding thing that I do. The sessions are always based on a theme or a challenge, and I plan activities that engage various senses around that. Often participants are pre-verbal, so we find other ways to communicate. These sessions always get very messy - I remember one young boy who had a fondness for green paint that ended up all over himself, and I had a few tiny green handprints on me too. I always come out of delivering a multi-sensory workshop exhausted, but on cloud nine!" 

How did your time at LIPA prepare you for your career?  

"The breadth of experience I gained while on my course from the varied projects and placements has been invaluable to my career. I came out of university prepared to give anything a go because I had done so much already." 

What did you learn at LIPA, that you still draw on today?  

"I always remember the words of the course leader Brendon Burns: 'make participation the easiest course'. It makes me evaluate whether what I'm doing is in a logical sequence, whether there are any barriers to participation, and if what I'm doing is following the easiest route for participants to fully engage with."

Tia’s continued commitment to accessibility in the arts is clearly having an impact, and we look forward to seeing what she does next!