To support the wider engagement and accessibility of dance, every Friday for the remainder of 2021, Allied Mobility is sponsoring Kate Stanforth’s Academy of Dance in the hopes of encouraging and assisting with broader access to the arts for disabled creatives and dancers.
Financial and cultural significance of the arts
With so many of us making use of arts and culture for enjoyment and escapism, fostering greater access to the arts is of paramount importance, whether that be theatre, music, dance or another creative avenue.
And it isn’t just vital culturally: in 2019, the arts and culture industry contributed £10.8billion to the UK economy, involving hundreds of thousands of jobs and livelihoods and providing immeasurable joy for the millions of people who enjoy the creative products of the sector.
However, since the start of the pandemic, many of us sorely missed being able to enjoy cultural entertainment and the rich variety of experiences that artistic industries can facilitate.
Even more fundamental than recreational needs, creative communities are a crucial source of support for the many people involved with them.
Towards a more accessible arts sector
Accessibility is a daily challenge for people with disabilities and invisible illnesses, as society is geared up to consider a limited range of access requirements which are aimed at non-disabled people.
Sadly, this extends to arts and culture: there continue to be issues with making the arts accessible for diverse bodies and wide representation. As such, accessibility requirements for disabled people are not sufficiently factored into artistic practice, production, or performances.
Yet, greater inclusion in the arts is essential to ensure they’re enriched and available for enjoyment by all. One such enterprise working towards a more inclusive arts sector is Kate Stanforth’s School of Dance.
Kate Stanforth, the eponymous owner of the dance school, is a gifted dancer and has been training since she was eight years old, when she knew she wanted to be a professional in the art.
However, since Kate developed multiple invisible illnesses and non-visible disabilities from the age of 14, including Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and ME, she has encountered limited access and inclusion for disabled dancers in studios. Consequently, Kate struggled for a while with the idea of continuing to pursue her goals in dance.
Nevertheless, when the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, Kate began streaming free online dance classes, as attending online events became the norm due to government restrictions.
Inspired to continue this greater inclusion after the lifting of restrictions, the Kate Stanforth School of Dance has sessions which aim to be accessible for all bodies and levels, also providing a more advanced class.
Kate advocates for Disability Pride and the rights of the Disabled community, demonstrating that dance style can include and embrace disability, and she has developed an impressive portfolio with these principles, working with such big names as Channel 4 and ASDA.
Recognising the beauty and uniqueness of all bodies, inclusion for the Disabled community is making advances nationally and locally. Crucially, as Kate Stanforth’s School of Dance demonstrates, disabled people themselves are leading this change.