SAM I AM, directed by Dan Graham, performers Sam Marin & Dani Wright. Photographer Angel Leggas

Wire #15: Accessibility for Professional Artists With A Disability

Tue 7 Dec 2021

In Australia, when we talk about ‘accessibility in the arts’, it’s more common for us to be concentrating on improving and embedding accessibility for audiences. There is a group of people who aren’t as visible in this conversation, and that’s professional performing artists with disabilities. When we’re talking about making employment accessible for performing artists with disabilities, it’s critically important that organisations go beyond offering one-off opportunities – there need to be employment pathways that go somewhere. In this edition of the APAM Wire, we will hear from performing artists and arts workers from Australia and the UK on what is currently being done and what needs to change.

This conversation is curated and hosted by Dan Graham, a Sydney-based theatre director and disability advocate. Our panel of speakers is David Bellwood (Access Manager, The Globe, UK), Kate Hood (Raspberry Ripple Productions, Australia), Jacqueline Hornjik (Producer, Children, Families and Creative Learning, Sydney Opera House) Sarah Houbolt (National Project Manager, Arts Access Australia) and Jess Thom (Touretteshero, UK).

Tuesday 7 December
21:00-22:30 NZST (Aotearoa)
19:00-20:30pm AEDT (Melbourne/Sydney)
18:00-19:30pm AEST (Brisbane)
16:00-17:30pm AWST (Perth)
8:00-9:30am BST (London)

This conversation will be AUSLAN interpreted and live-captioned. Please contact us at if you have accessibility requirements.


Dan Graham, Host
Dan is a Theatre Director and a Disability Advocate with a particular interest in access support for neuro-diverse performing artists. Dan has a neuro-diverse disability and accompanying neurological challenges that impact his daily life including his creative ability. His directing and access work have seen him travel all over Australia and the world to research and explore access and inclusion. Dan has engaged with companies across Australia such as Bell Shakespeare, Sydney Festival, Sydney Fringe, Antipode Theatre Company, and the Ensemble Theatre. His recent collaborations in the US include the Atlantic Theatre Company and Pasadena Playhouse and in the UK the Globe Theatre. Dan is a fellow of the Australia Council’s Future Leaders Program, an Ian Potter Foundation scholarship, and Create NSW fellowship recipient. He has a stellar director resume and uses his success to advocate for other artists who identify as neurodiverse. Dan studied BA (Communication) and MCA (Theatre, specialising in directing) at the University of Tasmania and Honours in Performance Studies at the University of Sydney. His Honours paper focused on the playwright’s intent and how this is realised in the director’s vision. Dan also holds a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. Dan is a board director of Arts Access Australia and a regular peer assessor for the Australia Council for the Arts. He is the co-chair of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance’s (MEAA) artists with Disability Board and on the LGBTQIA+ disability advisory group for ACON. He is a board member of the Hickson Road Group Accessible Arts, and a member of Accessible Arts NSW Artists Advisory Group. He previously was a board member for Arts Access Australia and a committee member for the Hobart Fringe Festival.

David Bellwood
David has worked in theatre for over 15 years, having started as a dancer in the world tour of Riverdance. 2021 will be David’s final summer as Access Manager at Shakespeare’s Globe, where he has been responsible for physical and cognitive access to theatre productions and educational work for patrons, students, volunteers and staff. He is a trustee at Deafinitely Theatre, a Deaf-led National Portfolio Organisation, as well as arts lead on the Southwark Dementia Action Alliance, working on infrastructural and social changes in the community to aid those living with dementia. David has consulted on both organisational and physical access for venues such as the Old Vic, The National Theatre, the Donmar Warehouse and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He is an advocate for the inclusion of performers who are deaf, disabled and neurodivergent and works with several companies to promote inclusive work. On behalf of Shakespeare’s Globe, David was recently awarded the Leonard Cheshire award for Most Inclusive Employer. Shakespeare’s Globe is a world-renowned performing arts venue, cultural attraction and education centre located on the bank of the River Thames in London, UK. They celebrate Shakespeare’s transformative impact on the world by conducting a radical theatrical experiment.

Kate Hood
Kate had a career as an able-bodied actor for many years, performing in everything from classics to musicals. Some credits: Prisoner (Grundy’s), Big River (Gordon Frost), Diving for Pearls (Melbourne Theatre Company), Marat Sade (State Theatre Company of South Australia). She became a wheelchair user over a decade ago and reinvented herself as a disabled advocate, writer and theatre maker, after participating in the Sync Leadership Intensive with Jo Verrent (Unlimited, UK), a training course for disabled leadership in the performing arts. She then worked with Jenny Sealey (D/deaf Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre UK) on her Aesthetics of Access Residency. Her theatre company Raspberry Ripple Productions dissolves the divide by making original, accessible theatre using mainstream and disabled artists. Kate’s current credits include Takeover! (Arts Centre Melbourne 2020, actor, writer); That’s Why the Lady Needs a Ramp (actor, writer) – Footscray Community Arts Centre / Raspberry Ripple; Contest (actor), Darebin Speakeasy; Elephant Man (Besen Directing Placement), Malthouse Theatre; Neighbours (actor); Risky Business, Malthouse Theatre (Director/Devisor); Enunciations, Raspberry Ripple Productions (writer, director, actor). She is founder and Co-Chair of the Performers with Disabilities Committee at Actors Equity.

Jacqueline (Jax) Hornjik
Producer, Children, Families and Creative Learning, Sydney Opera House
Jacqueline is a producer, curator and marketer who has worked in the arts industry for almost 15 years, establishing herself in the fields of children, families, young audiences and education. Originally from Western Sydney, Jacqueline started her career founding Liverpool’s only community arts organisation, The Liverpool Performing Arts Ensemble Inc. Though fiercely dedicated to community practice, Jacqueline has also programmed for the international team as a Producer at the Sydney Opera House in the Children and Families team. Prior to that, Jacqueline was curator of the Way Out West Festival for Children, Producer of Theatre at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Creative Producer at Critical Stages, Deputy Chair at Arts Access Australia and Marketing Manager at Monkey Baa Theatre Company. Jacqueline is also a mother to three sons, including an incredible 10 year old with a profound intellectual disability who is the absolute love of her life.

Sarah Houbolt
National Project Manager, Arts Access Australia
Sarah is an experienced international producer and arts leader, managing multi-artform presentations, community arts programs, arts and disability festivals, disability arts theatre, media opportunities, and conference events for governments and not for profits for over 15 years. She has worked in several countries on research, evaluation and access consultancy, including Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, UK, USA and continental Europe. Sarah has worked in the wider disability advocacy and policy sector and digital access space for several years, with a career highlight of speaking at the United Nations on the rights of women and girls with disability. She has been on various Boards, including Queenslanders with Disability Network and SAMAG, and on several access and inclusion advisory committees. Sarah received the inaugural Arts Access Aotearoa Artistic Achievement Award, and the inaugural Australian Disability Leadership Institute Arts Award. Sarah holds a Bachelor for both Social work and Arts (Politics and Sociology) from the University of Queensland. She was a finalist at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, and a featured TEDx speaker.

Jess Thom
Writer, artist and part-time superhero, Jess co-founded Touretteshero in 2010 as a creative response to her experience of living with Tourettes Syndrome. Jess has written in the mainstream and disability press including The Guardian, The Observer and Disability Now. Jess is a regular performer at Glastonbury, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, DaDaFest, Unlimited Festival and Shambala. She made Broadcast from Biscuit Land as part of On Stage: Live from Television Centre for BBC4 in 2015.  In 2018 her one-hour film Me, My Mouth and I was broadcast on BBC2 and went on to be screened in the USA, Russia, Chile, Switzerland and Canada. In 2018 Jess took her stand-up show Stand Up, Sit Down, Roll Over to the USA and Europe, hosted Heroes of the Imagination at the Southbank’s Imagine Festival, and Brewing in Battersea at Battersea Arts Centre. The year ended with Hacks for the Future, a residential theatre project for disabled young creatives in the Highlands in association with National Theatre Scotland.  During the 2020 Coronavirus lockdown, Jess devised and delivered Digital Heroes of the Imagination with the National Youth Theatre and created a Pandemic Postcard for the Harbourfront Theatre in Toronto.