Disability in the Arts

Molly left Stowe in 2015 and is currently studying Theatre and Performance at Leeds University. She shares her plans to pursue a career working with Disability in the Arts.

I am currently taking a year in industry, to explore my interest in working with Disability in the Arts and gain some useful experience before finishing my degree. I am working for two charities, Riding for the Disabled and Anjali Dance Company. Both are small but amazing charities that offer so much for people with disabilities.

Anjali is a professional-level dance company comprised of people with learning disabilities. Anjali creates, celebrates and promotes original dance performances, showcasing in the UK and abroad. It has a successful youth dance company and an education team which presents workshops and seminars for people with learning disabilities. The company was the first of its kind in the UK. Its dancers have performed at prestigious venues in the UK including the Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells and the Royal Festival Hall, and in Germany, Spain, Portugal and Mexico. Anjali celebrates the talents and creativity of people with learning disabilities and has been a pioneer in learning disabled dance for more than 20 years. Recently, they have been touring their work Genius, choreographed by Gary Clarke and Lea Anderson, and I have been working as a Production Assistant. My work involves looking after the dancers backstage during the performances, helping with props and costume changes and being a runner, as well as offering support to the dancers during these busy times.

Disability in the ArtsRiding for the Disabled Association was founded in 1969. It gives opportunities for therapy, a sense of achievement and brings much enjoyment to people with disabilities. RDA has over 480 Member Groups across the UK – together, these groups help 28,000 people to take part in riding, carriage driving and vaulting activities, all of which are life changing. Shacks Barn and Buckingham RDA is a member group of RDA that coordinates all groups, ensuring standards of safety, and teaching, whilst providing information and endless training opportunities. It provides individuals with disabilities the chance to reach therapeutic goals, achieve their personal ambitions, combat social isolation, develop life skills, experience the outdoors and connect with animals.

I have volunteered with RDA since I was fourteen. This year, I am training to be an instructor and taking a lead in their vital fundraising activities. I have been fortunate enough to be able to link my passion for horses with my career aspirations and I have developed my professional relationships with the children, their families, other volunteers and the instructors. Our current target is to raise sufficient funds to purchase a mechanical horse, which would give greater flexibility to the children who do not have sufficient postural skills to ride. It would also mean that we could give more children the opportunity to ride in all weathers.

Such is my commitment to this incredible organisation that I am keen to raise £60,000, the cost of a mechanical horse. If any Old Stoics would like to support this fund raising opportunity, please contact the Old Stoic Society on oldstoic@stowe.co.uk and they will forward your details to me. Thank you.

Molly Suthers (Stanhope 15)