Deafinitely Theatre today announces a special project offering bursaries to support deaf or hard of hearing freelance theatre practitioners and performers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The organisation will award 20 bursaries of £1000 to support freelancers at any stage of their career to develop their practice in Spring 2021, and will provide recipients with networking and keeping-in-touch sessions to monitor their personal development.
Artistic Director Paula Garfield today said, “I know how incredibly difficult this period has been for all self-employed theatre makers, especially those who have upsettingly fallen through the funding gaps. Many freelance deaf and hard of hearing artists have been in touch with me about the challenges they have been facing during lockdown and my heart goes out to them. Thanks to the fantastic Arts Council Cultural Recovery Fund, Deafinitely Theatre is so pleased to be able to offer financial assistance to support 20 deaf freelance theatre practitioners and performers with paid time to develop their creative practice at the start of 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be an incredibly difficult period for the arts and we are determined to come out of it with brilliant work for audiences across the country to return to, with deaf and disabled theatre makers front and centre.”
Supported by the Arts Council Cultural Recovery Fund, the bursaries are open to deaf and hard of hearing theatre practitioners and performers aged 18 and over at any stage of their career. Applicants must be self-employed, not in full-time education, live in the United Kingdom and have a UK bank account.
In 2002 Paula Garfield set up Deafinitely Theatre alongside Steven Webb and Kate Furby after becoming frustrated at the barriers that deaf actors and directors face in mainstream media. The company launched with a sell-out première of Deaf History at the Gate Theatre in London. In May 2012, the company performed the first ever British Sign Language Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre, Love’s Labour’s Lost, celebrating its 10-year anniversary. In 2018 Deafinitely won the Off West End Award for Best Production for its site-specific production of Mike Bartlett’s Contractions and in 2019 Paula Garfield received a Tonic Award for her energy and unwavering commitment to opening theatre up and the artistic quality of the work Deafinitely Theatre presents.
The company’s vision is a world where deaf people are a valued part of the national theatre landscape, recognised for the excellence of their work. Deafinitely Theatre is the first professional deaf-launched and led theatre company in the UK that works bilingually in British Sign Language and spoken English and produces work that caters to audiences of all ages. Deaf theatre has a vital contribution to make to the UK's diverse and vibrant theatre landscape. Deafinitely Theatre challenges barriers to training and opportunities and embraces the deaf world's diversity. The company work hard to nurture the next generation of deaf actors, writers and audiences through its Deafinitely Youth Theatre and Deafinitely Little productions for young people, plus its Hub training and development programme for adults.