A Little Bit of History
Access All Areas was formed in 1976 as The Rainbow Theatre Group
Access All Areas was formed in 1976 by Elsie Pilbeam as The Rainbow Theatre Group.
Between 1976 and 2007 a record of 63 shows were devised and performed by The Rainbow Theatre Group.
We rebranded to Access All Areas and became a registered charity
The company underwent rapid development, exploring both the participatory and professional artistic abilities of artists with learning disabilities and autism.
Spinning Wheel was founded
Spinning Wheel is a sensory movement and music project for adults with complex needs that encourages communication and creativity.
Access All Areas launches the Performance Making Diploma
Run in partnership with The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, our Diploma teaches professional performance skills. Graduates have gone on to perform on national and international stages and TV including BBC and ITV.
The Misfit Analysis at Edinburgh Fringe
The Misfit Analysis, 2015, was the first one man show starring a learning disabled person to be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and was in the top 10 best shows to watch that year. It also marked a turning point for Access All Areas as we started to get press interest and reviews from national newspapers.
Access All Areas won the 2015 Guardian University Award for Student Diversity and Widening Participation for our Performance Making Diploma held at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
Performance Making Diploma graduate Jules Robertson in Holby City
Simon & How casting agency partnership launched
Access All Areas entered a partnership with casting agency Simon & How who represent 6 Associate Artists of Access All Areas.
Access All Areas was a finalist in the 2017 National Learning Disability and Autism Awards
In 2017, Access All Areas was awarded National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status by Arts Council England
“It’s really encouraging that the Arts Council seems prepared to give learning disabled artists a chance in London. This will give us the opportunity to work with new companies in the mainstream, and will allow us to further develop our skills to grow as artists. This will make dreams come true.”
– Access All Areas Artists Emma Selwyn, Charlene Salter and Terry Huggett
Access All Areas was was nominated in the 2018 National Diversity Awards and a finalist in the 2018 Living Wage Awards
“I would like to offer huge congratulations to Access All Areas on being shortlisted for the Living Wage Champion Awards. By committing to responsible pay, employers like Access All Areas have changed the lives of thousands of people across the UK, lifting workers out of poverty and transforming communities.”
– Tess Lanning, Director of the Living Wage Foundation
MADHOUSE re:exit, a multi-faceted project inspired by Mabel Cooper was launched
The interactive performance MADHOUSE: exit, a “sharp, urgent critique” (Upper Circle) and accompanying Wiki site, Madhouse, my house? exposed the horrors of long stay hospitals for learning disabled and autistic people.
We launched our Performance Company
Our Performance Company is an ensemble of seventeen learning disabled and autistic Associate Artists who create performance either as part of Access All Areas, or are supported to realise their ideas independently.
Access All Areas partnered with Disability Arts Online and Manchester Met University to launch Transforming Leadership
Transforming Leadership is a bespoke career development programme and coaching culture for emerging learning disabled leaders, the first of its kind and one that we hope will be the first of many similar programmes.
The programme sees nine learning disabled leaders employed in positions across all aspects of theatre making.
The work of Access All Areas is made possible by the generous support of trusts, foundations, statutory/local authorities, organisations and individuals who give their time, money and expertise.
Current funders include Arts Council England, City Bridge Trust, Esmee Faibairn Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Sky Studios and the Worshipful Company of Tinplate Workers.
Key partnerships have included relationships with the Open University, RIX Centre for Research and Media, Hackney Museum and the Royal Central School or Speech and Drama.
Access All Areas was a founding partner of the BELONG manifesto that champions a better life for people with learning disabilities and autism. It has created the MADHOUSE wiki for the Inclusive Archive, as well as a variety of resource packs for professionals working with people with learning disabilities.
It works alongside charities, authorities and organisations of all sizes, from local to national, to improve the quality of life of people with learning disabilities and autism.