Unleash Your Creativity: Performance Academy Applications Now Open! 

At Mind the Gap we think EVERYONE should have the right to top quality training in performing arts. We know that mainstream drama school courses aren’t accessible for everyone, so we set out to do something about it.

Mind the Gap has been running training opportunities for learning disabled and autistic aspiring creatives since 1997. We’ve honed and developed our craft alongside creating touring shows, and we now offer 7 different training courses, mostly at our base in Manningham, Bradford.

The most intensive of these, the jewel in the Academy crown, is the flagship Performance Academy course. It’s the result of over 25 years’ of experience delivering bespoke training and is a unique collaboration with York St John University.

Mind the Gap is now recruiting for our new cohort of students to start the three-year programme in September 2024. So, if you are a learning disabled or autistic creative person looking for your next step, or you know someone who is – read on!

Both Mind the Gap and York St John University share a passion for creating high-quality experiences that are accessible for people with different learning needs. We worked together over two years to create this new programme. The process was led by Academy Director Charli Ward for Mind the Gap, and Professor Matthew Reason from the University.

In partnership, Charli and Matthew systematically worked through the existing three-year training course and adapted it to meet Certificate of Education Level 4 requirements. Our shared objective: to remove as many practical barriers as possible to university standard validation for learning disabled students, WITHOUT compromising high quality standards or the integrity of the study experience.

The result is an accessible, enjoyable and challenging training experience where all the key elements of the Performing Academy course meet Certificate of Education Level 4 standard.

This means MTG Performance Academy students train to the same level as those in their first year of degree courses across the UK. It’s the only one at this level in the UK, giving learning disabled and autistic people the chance to train to a high standard, in a fit-for-purpose building with high quality spaces and equipment.

This intensive and challenging opportunity runs over 3 years, offering 4-days training over 35 weeks. Experienced teaching staff, all practicing artists themselves, lead the creative sessions. A learning support staff member is always present to address any access needs of participating students.

Students learn through creative exploration in each of the main artforms: theatre, music and dance. This means creating mini-productions, composing and performing songs, experimenting with instruments, exploring themes through choreography and movement. As well as learning new creative skills, students are continuously improving their communication, confidence and teamwork abilities.

The highlight of each year – for students and audiences – is an end of year production which celebrates and showcases the talents of participating students, applying what they’ve learned throughout the year.

There’s still a long way to go to achieve an arts sector that’s truly inclusive of learning disabled and autistic talent. And there’s a lot of it about! At Mind the Gap we hope our Performance Academy is one part of the jigsaw that makes learning disabled and autistic creativity more visible. It’s certainly central to our mission of creating a world where we see disabled people on our stages and screen every day.

Julia Skelton MBE

To find out more visit this link.

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