Disabled theatre-maker and performer, Madeleine Little, has been acknowledged by the Australian arts industry for her commitment to creating accessible theatre, living her motto ‘disabled-led is the way ahead’. The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Master of Arts student is the inaugural recipient of the Arts Access Australia National Leadership Award at the National Arts and Disability Awards in Canberra on December 3, 2019.

Through her USQ post-graduate study, Ms Little tested accessible theatre practice conventions in her original theatrical work, Hold, which was performed at the Roundhouse Theatre in April. Her research explored the role of leadership in creating an environment for artists and arts workers with disabilities.

“My research has affirmed what I’ve known for a while: that theatrical works can be equal parts compelling and accessible, and disabled-led creative processes are key to achieving this in an authentic and respectful manner. I hope that this research and my creative practice have an impact on the wider theatre sector, and creates professional performance opportunities for d/Deaf and disabled artists in Queensland and throughout Australia,” Ms Little said.

The Australia Council for the Arts and Arts Access Australia partnered to present the prestigious awards for the first time in 2019, coinciding with the International Day of People with Disability. Australia Council CEO Adrian Collette congratulated the recipients: “Their work demonstrates the power of the arts to connect and transform us, awakening us to new perspectives and experiences through creative expression,” he said.

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