Grant for theatre company breaking down barriers for disabled youth

A theatre company which puts Deaf and disabled actors centre stage has been given a funding boost from London’s largest independent grant-giver.

The Hoxton-based Graeae Theatre Company has received a £260,400 grant over five years from City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder.

The money will fund a training and learning co-ordinator to lead three groups helping Deaf and disabled children and young people break into the arts and develop their skills and confidence.

It will fund The Rollettes and the Young Company – theatre groups for children aged five to 11 and 12 to 18 respectively – and The Ensemble Intensive, a training programme helping 17 to 30-year-olds develop careers in the creative industries.

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:

“Deaf and disabled young people looking to break into the arts often have to overcome a number of barriers including other people’s preconceptions and practical issues such as accessibility and cost.

“Graeae is recognised internationally as a centre of excellence in this field, and this funding will allow it to help even more young people break through these barriers and boost their confidence, life skills and independence.”

Graeae – pronounced ‘grey-eye’ – was established in 1980 and counts among its patrons such luminaries of the arts as actors Dame Emma Thompson and Jenny Agutter and legendary pop artist Sir Peter Blake.

Jodi-Alissa Bickerton, Creative Learning Director at Graeae Theatre Company, said:

“This grant enables our work with young Deaf and disabled people to flourish – improving their wellbeing and supporting their ambitions – and supports us to continue creating pathways for a new wave of young arts leaders, who bring a wealth of lived experience to inform more welcoming and inclusive platforms for more young people across London.”

Ayzah Ahmed, Graeae’s young artistic advisor and Young Company member, said:

“Graeae was one of the first places that I felt completely accepted for who I am. The Young Company, which I am so happy City Bridge Trust can support us with, is incredibly important to me and other young aspiring artists. At Graeae, we not only focus on improving our skills as young performers but also embrace our own original personalities. I truly believe that with Graeae we are going to change the world.”

More information about Graeae Theatre Company is online at graeae.org

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile, dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

The City Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of over £25 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

It has donated £6 million to the London Community Response, set up to help charities deal with the impact of coronavirus, and has also given over £1.7 million in one-off grants to 202 organisations it already supports to help them offset lost income resulting from the pandemic.