“Never mind, maybe next time” — The Need of Closing the Gap between the Arts and Disabilities

By Graziana Presicce

My dad has Parkinson’s disease. It’s one of those things which, unfortunately, just happens. As with any disability, new circumstances inevitably bring some adaptations and new routines in one’s everyday life: whether involving medicines, more frequent visits to the toilet, or the need of taking into account how tired the body may feel on particular days, making walking more challenging than usual.

Through my work, being fully immersed in the arts, there are numerous events to which I wish to bring my parents along. Yet, there are often times where the answer eventually turns into a “never mind, maybe next time”. Being a classical pianist myself, my love for classical music, attentive audiences and concert halls is granted. Yet, the expectation of a still, quiet audience often does not make these concerts an ideal environment for people affected by Parkinson’s. It is unpredictable how strong the uncontrolled movements or shaking may be on certain days or times of the day. It is also unpredictable who is going to sit next to you: there might be the occasional glance on you; and it’s an uncomfortable feeling. Stress certainly does not help towards the effects of Parkinson’s, and such events should certainly not be a reason for stress—quite the opposite! Anyone, regardless of one’s condition, should have the chance to fully enjoy music, without having to think twice whether “it’s OK or not” to attend. 

It’s thrilling to see initiatives from the arts in taking a step closer towards disabilities; for instance, through relaxed performances. If you are in Hull and surroundings, we are excited to be hosting Hull Chamber Music’s very first relaxed concert ‘A Musical Journey’ at the Ferens Art Gallery, Friday 21st February 2020 at 11am! Carers and under 18s are welcome to attend for free (Standard Ticket: £10). Anyone attending will be free to move around, without any need of sitting still and quiet. The performance will also be BSL interpreted, as BBC Music Magazine’s Instrumental Award winner violinist Fenella Humphreys, alongside international pianist Nicola Eimer, will guide the audience through a musical journey around the world. Babies and toddlers are also most welcome to the event.

To book, visit: https://www.hullboxoffice.com/event/hull-chamber-music-and-culture-tots-present-a-musical-journey-around-the-world/

It would be lovely to see you there — do spread the word!

One final note: we recently launched a Crowdfunding campaign to give away tickets to those who cannot otherwise afford them. Tickets are distributed through local charities, including Parkinson’s and Mind, among others. We would be incredibly grateful if you could chip in to let us reach our new target; if this is not possible for you, simply sharing the link below and encourage your friends to do so would be immensely helpful (we have only 8 days left to achieve this!):


We have been overwhelmed by people’s generosity so far. We hope to reach our new target and making chamber music more accessible to all.

Thank you for reading. Now let’s make the difference together! 


How being a doula has improved my work on inclusivity in the arts

By Katie Beardsworth, Founder and Director, Polyphony Arts

I trained to be a volunteer doula in 2018.

For those of you who don’t know what a doula is (as I didn’t, until I was introduced to the concept after my son was born), it is a birth companion who supports women through pregnancy, birth, and postnatally.

Goodwin Doula and Breastfeeding Support Service

My doula training took place with the fantastic Goodwin Doula Project in Hull. The training is the equivalent of an A level; the eye-opening training topics including pre- and post- natal support, birth support including vaginal and C-section births, breastfeeding, safeguarding, domestic abuse awareness, FGM awareness, and many other things.

I went into the training considering it to be completely separate from my working life, and seeing no relevance to a career in arts management; this was about my personal development, and a desire I had to be a volunteer supporting families going through the life-changing experience of having a baby.

However, the training gave me an unparalleled (in my experience) insight into the makeup of society (especially in Hull, my home town) and the various issues that people could be facing at any time. The Doula Project deals with vulnerable women across the full range of social, economic, racial, and health backgrounds, and I had my eyes opened to the huge range of factors that might (among other things) prevent someone from accessing the arts.

I always considered myself to be understanding of the challenges that people face, and I was certainly sympathetic, but in order to write about this experience, I have to acknowledge that I was definitely in my own bubble of experience; I think we all are, to varying extents, and acknowledging this is important.

Goodwin Doula and Breastfeeding Support Service

I used my new understanding to write a successful funding bid for funds to re-structure Hull Chamber Music, in order to allow them to offer considerate and appealing chamber music offerings to people from all the social backgrounds found in Hull, and not just those of a certain economic and educational background.

The funding has lead to a new vision for HCM, and a new long-term strategy for offering inclusive chamber music to as many people from Hull and the surrounding area as possible.

We launch their new season this Friday, 23 August, and I am incredibly proud of this work; it is a real career highlight for me, and we’re only just getting started!

Have you had an experience of training in one aspect of your life affecting another? Did it surprise you?

#inclusivity #inclusivearts #doula #womensupportingwomen #hullchambermusic #chambermusic #hull #goodwin #volunteer

Interested in becoming a doula or breastfeeding peer supporter? It is truly rewarding and wonderful volunteer work. This wonderful team is always happy to welcome new members. Get in touch here.