Not many writers of a stage musical would attempt to explore deeply contentious and troubling issues of the day. Big issues don't really lend themselves to up beat song and dance, and most audiences don't usually find themselves clapping along to show tunes with a serious edge...
Disability is not seen to be synonymous with leadership - disabled people are seen to need help, assumed not to be able to do things for themselves let alone be at the helm of their own cultural and creative lives as directors, producers, managers and administrators.
Many of us don't want to have our impairments shifted or changed, but we would like to be perceived as 'normal' - accepted as part of the 'normal' diversity of humanity. To have provided the things that we need in order to take part and function fully as artists, participants or audience members.
I have long believed that disability arts have reached such a high standard that they now rival any other scene or movement out there. The Unlimited Festival, delivered by Shape Arts and Artadmin and funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland, will have something to delight everyone.
Recently the debate around Assisted Dying has become a cause célèbre and is now one of the hottest topics of the 21st Century. The concept of assisting someone to die if they are terminally ill may seem a no brainer. Making it legal to assist in a person committing suicide if they feel they can no longer carry on, or that they fear what their impending death may bring, is portrayed in the media as a humanitarian act of compassion that any forward thinking caring society would allow.
In 2014 I sat with a funding application for a tour in front of me, the week before a panel was due to decide whether or not to fund it. News had just come in that one of the collaborators named in the application had died. Did the artists want to continue with the application?
I felt more than privileged as I found myself sat in the front row behind members of Julie's family for this performance and hearing their laughter and tears enabled me to know the depth of truth and reality behind the portrayal of the various characters, and how rooted in real life Let Me Stay is.
The show took shape after a meeting with a defrocked Buddhist monk, ironically named Mr Rong, who felt his disability was a direct result of bad karma incurred during a past life. This shocked Ms Cunningham and kick started a search for the truth behind faith and disability.
I'm writing this as I return from my annual trip to Edinburgh's Fringe Festival. I tend to head up for a couple of days each year to catch shows, catch up with colleagues (and this year catch a cold too). Every year, I look to see where disabled artists are in the mix - and this year the spread is impressive.
Pushing Watershed's Dick Penny into The Space, Arts Council England's New Digital Platform Created in Partnership With the BBC
It's a good job the café is empty. Dick Penny is animated when excited; his language is loud and rich in profanity. We are discussing arts funding in the UK. There is a lot of swearing going on.