Mind the Gap is 30!

Happy 30th Birthday to Mind the Gap!

It’s a momentous occasion for the company and we’re going to spend the next 12 months celebrating.

The coming year will see us continuing to tour with Mia and Mirror Mirror as well as creating new work, the focus being on Zara, which we are really excited about. We’re not going to tell you much more though as there’s a lot of work happening behind the scenes, but let’s just say this – it’s going to be big.

Executive Director, Julia Skelton said:

It’s hugely important to all at Mind the Gap that we shout about the great theatre we create; theatre as it should be – bold, challenging, funny, emotive and thought-provoking.

“We are fiercely proud of being a theatre company and not a box-ticking exercise.”

We’re going to be shouting more about all our Artists and their achievements and do what we’ve always done. Julia continues:

We have championed learning disability arts for 30 years – we have a theatre company and an Academy each with exceptional facilities; we have worked alongside other arts venues to help create more opportunities for both learning disabled audiences and artists.

“And there are success stories for learning disabled artists and performers as shown by the recent Britain’s Got Talent results, but there is still no room for complacency.”

We work with learning disabled artists to give them a voice. Mind the Gap’s work is about collaboration – we don’t tell our Artists what to say or how to say it. Our work is created by them, but we are the exception not the norm; we want to see learning disability arts respected and heard at conferences, events and in other people’s productions.”

Here are some of the things our Artists have achieved:

Back in 2010, highly skilled musician, composer and singer, Jez Colborne created Irresistible for the 2012 Paralympic Games Celebrations. The show went on to tour the UK and internationally for four years. You can see Jez talking about that here…

Zara Mallinson is currently working on a piece with local writer, Emma Adams, who discovered her learning disabled Aunt was an artist only after she died. We’ll bring you updates on that as they happen.

JoAnne Haines had a part in BBC1’s Doctors back in 2015.

Alan Clay successfully received funding from Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts programme to R&D and tour his own piece called Skip Rap.

And of course we can’t forget Liam Bairstow – a regular to the cobbles of Coronation Street for the past three years where he plays Alex Warner.

Liam said: “Having a disability is not a bad thing – it’s a good thing because you get to know people inside. I’m very proud to inspire and represent people through my role on Coronation Street and my work with Mind the Gap.”

Later this month Liam is on the celebrity judging panel of Leeds Young Talent, a talent show for young people with a learning disability hosted by People In Action, where he will sit alongside Britain’s Got Talent winner Lee Ridley, aka Lost Voice Guy. Find out more here…

And there’s more!

Talented dancer Michael Allen will perform at Expressions at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre in Leeds; Jez Colborne and the Mind the Gap Band play Leeds Wharf Chambers and Mirror Mirror appears at the opening ceremony of Great Exhibition of the North.

We’re a busy lot.

And did you know that this November we celebrate 10 years of being in our home, MTG Studios, in the beautiful Lister Mills? The move was a game-changer for Mind the Gap. Julia finishes:

If we’d have listened to those that said we couldn’t do it, we’d never have done it, but here we are. We’ve achieved so much, and we are incredibly proud, but there is more to do. Here’s to the next 30 years!”