Graeae Theatre Company

Graeae Theatre Company

Graeae is a world-class accessible theatre company, that breaks down barriers and transforms preconceptions by placing Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists centre stage.

Graeae's programme has helped to transform how disabled writers contribute to the arts landscape with writers that have received funding and training through the programme now writing for theatre, TV and film. Over the last year we have presented three vastly different shows by Write to Play graduates, reaching an audience of over 20,000 people. The long-term investment in the programme has helped us build relationships with venues, many of whom are hungry to learn and eager to collaborate. Our greatest joy is when partners and our graduate writers produce work independent of Graeae. It means diverse-led work is happening more organically and we all benefit from a theatre sector is more representative of the people it serves.

Kevin Walsh, Executive Director and Joint CEO, Graeae

The company’s mission is to ignite artistic curiosity, pioneer a radical theatrical language and champion accessibility. Their work opens up the cultural landscape for disabled artists, participants and audiences by investing in people and removing the obstacles to their progression in the arts.

Their flagship writer development programme ‘Write to Play’ nurtures and develops Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent playwrights nationwide. Writers work in partnership with Graeae and 30 allied theatres in the UK. Esmee has been supporting Write to Play since 2013, and in this time the programme has developed the skills of over 50 playwrights, many of whom have gone on to have work produced professionally.

Connection to Esmée's strategy

Long-term outcomes
  • A representative cultural workforce.
  • A new and diverse generation of cultural leaders are equipped to influence the world around them.

Graeae is often at the heart of sector-wide progress on removing barriers for the work of D/deaf and disabled artists. The ‘Write to Play’ programme has, through three iterations, supported a hugely talented group of writers as well as influencing, supporting and challenging the wider theatre sector. The results of the programme are already evident, and the potential impact is even larger.

Alison Holdom, Funding Manager and Arts and Culture Lead, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

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