I am exceptionally lucky to have been part of the artistic heart of the ever evolving extraordinary Deaf and disability arts culture.
We have a rich creative honesty of what it is to be human born out of fighting for inclusion and our desire to engage and share our cultural landscape and learn from others. We have an acute sense of responsibility for our work to enlighten, dismantle prejudice, entertain and connect and through this strive to pave the way for the next generation of young Deaf and disabled people. They look to us to make their world fit for purpose and free of discrimination.
The Paralympic Opening Ceremony placed the politics of human rights and participation in a creative cultural community at the centre of the narrative. The gloriousness of the diverse cast and universal message of belonging started a global debate about the importance of the visibility of difference and how to embrace it.
It is crucial that the debate continues, as we cannot herald the ceremony as job done. It is just the start of a much bigger journey. The cuts in benefits for Deaf and disabled people, cuts in the arts and the real possibility we may have to go underground again is unnerving. The Warwick Commission has the responsibility to ask and respond to difficult questions of why in the second decade of the 21st C are accessibility, inclusion and equality of opportunity and experience words that still exist mainly in print but not in practice. The Commission has to reconnect all people to remind us that culture is as crucial as breathing and if we are starved of it we stop being curious about our world and if we are not curious we become nothing.
Jenny Sealey has been Graeae’s Artistic Director since 1997. In 2009, she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Honours and became an Artistic Advisor for Unlimited 2012 Festival. Recent theatre credits for Graeae include: Reasons To Be Cheerful (2010 co-produced with The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich and Theatre Royal Stratford East, 2012 national tour co-produced with the New Wolsey Theatre); Signs of a Star Shaped Diva; Static (co-production with Suspect Culture); Blasted; Whiter than Snow (co production with Birmingham Rep); Flower Girls (co-production with The New Wolsey, Ipswich); peeling and Bent.
Other theatre and outdoor credits include: Blood Wedding (Setagaya Public Theatre, Tokyo); Romeo and Juliet (Saitama Arts Theatre, Tokyo); Against the Tide; The Iron Man; The Garden (with Strange Fruit); Sequins and Snowballs and The Limbless Knight – A Tale of Rights Reignited.
In 2012 Jenny co-directed the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony alongside Bradley Hemmings (GDIF). She also won the Liberty Human Rights Arts Award and was named on the Time Out London and Hospital Club h.Club100 list of the most influential and creative people in the creative industries. Since 2012 Jenny has been awarded an honorary doctorate degree in Drama from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in Performing Arts from Middlesex University and a Fellowship at Central School of Speech and Drama.