First UK Degree Level Learning Disabled Performing Arts Course Launched in Yorkshire

Bradford’s Mind the Gap has launched a new Performing Arts course for adults with learning disabilities and/or autism. York St John University has validated the course, which will give successful students a Certificate in HIgher Education. The first in the UK, this course equates to the completion of the first year of a degree.

Many of Mind The Gaps’ arts training courses are accredited, but this is the first at this level. Charli Ward, Academy Director:

“The validation from York St John University is a huge coup for Mind the Gap. It really cements the company as a beacon for learning-disabled creatives and further strengthens our reputation within the industry.”

Students will study classic and contemporary theatre, dance techniques, music production, and music composition. They will learn choreography skills, explore physical theatre, develop skills in devising theatre and participate in workshops led by industry professionals.

“York St John University are committed to widening participation in higher educations,” says Professor Matthew Reason, Director of the Institute for Social Justice at York St John University. “Through this unique partnership with Mind the Gap we are able to challenge some of the presumptions about who education is for and who can access higher learning. We are hugely proud to be working with Mind the Gap on this ground-breaking initiative.”

The deadline for applications is 7 June, with auditions on 11 June. Those who are successful will join the course in September.

Charli: “We’re delighted with the response to the course, though we’re not surprised by it. All our courses are hugely popular and highly respected.”

Mind the Gap’s Academy now has 70 students each week, more than double the number in 2012. It’s the UK’s largest of its kind, running one day a week courses in danger, music and theatre, as well as a weekly four-day Performance Academy course for advanced students which are currently recognised through Arts Award at Bronze and Silver levels.

There’s a weekly participatory course in partnership with Leeds-based disability consultants Totally Inclusive People, and a Youth Academy in partnership with Bradford Council. 

Charli: “We’re so proud to get this academic recognition. It will help us further on our mission to work in an arts sector where there is equal opportunity for performers with learning disabilities: a world where performers are trained, respected and employed equally, and feature every day on our stages and screens.”

For more information on Mind the Gap, its Academy, and its work visit

Photography by Les Parkinson.

Helen Morgan

Helen's interests are wide-ranging, from food to music to art and comedy.   She is especially keen on writing about local charitable activity and events as well as the opportunities the City Region has to offer to those with hidden talents.

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