Arts Council England and Disability Arts Online have today (24 September) published a digital guide to Access to Work – an employment support programme run by the Department for Work and Pensions. Access to Work can provide grants to remove barriers disabled people face in undertaking paid employment, including for equipment, travel and support workers. 

The guide, which is available in a variety of different formats including easy read and audio-only, clarifies the Access to Work process and provides specific advice for the arts and cultural sector. Recognising that there are many different types of work in the sector, and that artists and creatives often work in a freelance capacity, there are three sections to the guide: one for self-employed workers, one for employees (or prospective employees) and one for employers. A growing number of resources complement the guide, including information on how Access to Work relates to Arts Council Funding and case studies from disabled-led theatre company Graeae and a self-employed visual artist. 

Each section of the guide has a video version, which includes British Sign Language and optional captions, presented by theatre-maker and comedian Jess Thom (best known for her alter ego Touretteshero) and Deaf theatre access consultant and BSL performer, Deepa Shastri.

Abid Hussain, Director of Diversity at Arts Council England, said: “Our latest diversity data shows that the number of disabled people working at arts and cultural organisations remains frustratingly low, and we want to accelerate the rate of change to increase that number. This guide, which was developed in collaboration with the sector and shares insights from people who have applied to Access to Work, is part of those efforts. I hope it will support more disabled arts and cultural workers, and their employers, to navigate and make use of Access to Work and help make our sector more accessible for everyone.”  

Trish Wheatley, CEO of Disability Arts Online, said: “With the publication of this guide, it’s our ambition that more disabled people will pursue careers in the arts and culture sector. We hope that this guide will also empower organisations to be more confident in recruiting disabled people.”

You can read the guides here.

Image credit: Candoco Dance Company in the studio with Arlene Phillips © Camilla Greenwell. Thanks to Studio Wayne McGregor Freespace Programme.

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