What is the CRIPtic Lead Artist Programme?

The Lead Artist Programme was a programme of customised training and development that ran through 2019, leading up to our 2021 showcase. We designed it as a training programme for selected deaf and disabled artists who form part of the CRIPtic programme. It was for artists who have successfully undertaken significant performance opportunities previously, and who were ready to take the next stage in their careers. Even where there are resources and opportunities for artists at the beginning of their careers, these often dwindle as people progress. CRIPtic designed the Lead Artist Programme for the point at which artists are undertaking their first (or maybe second) major showcasing opportunity. We aimed to give them the training and skills necessary to take advantage of it.

What did the artists receive?

The Lead Artist Programme offered a mixture of free training and paid mentoring and development. We matched the CRIPtic artists with an industry-leading professional, and supported them throughout the programme. We also provided free workshops to explore specific aspects of one’s craft, such as the integration of creative access. The programme focused specifically on being a deaf and/or disabled artist, with workshops and seminars exploring making accessible art. It also explores the business side – grants and funding, PR and social media.

People assume that deaf and disabled creatives automatically understand how to make work accessible to other deaf and disabled people. This is often not the case, especially when it comes to reaching people with radically different access needs to oneself. Part of the Lead Artist programme is intensive support in working creatively with different types of integrated access, ensuring that the Lead Artists are experienced in this, and able to build it into their future work and career.

Where did this come from?

We developed the Lead Artist Programme following CRIPtic 2019 in the Pit at the Barbican. Afterwards, one of the things we really regretted was not having been able to operate a holistic programme surrounding and supporting the artists. As we designed the future of CRIPtic, we realised that we needed to create this.

Deaf and disabled creatives face incredibly limited access to training and development. Opportunities are scarce, and accessible opportunities are even moreso. It’s far harder to take the traditional route of working your way up through the performance industries, and this is our attempt to counter that.

Will there be another round?

We really hope so! The programme isn’t running in 2022, but we hope to bring it back in 2023 – so watch this space!