2018 has been a roller coaster so far, packed with performances for Little Meerkat's Big Panic, development of our two new productions - premiering at Brighton Fringe in a couple of weeks time - and planning our work for the autumn season and beyond.
We were very excited to discover that we had been nominated for a National Diversity Award in the Community Organisation category, and the vote endorsements we have received so far have been nothing short of proper tear-jerkers. Here are some highlights:
"Collar and Cuffs make work that opens up theatre and performance to all, regardless of background, ability or prior experience. Her focus on creating experiences that engage all the senses ensures that everyone can benefit from the vital work they make. On top of that, there is a focus on creating work that explores important themes for parents and young people, so that the young people are entertained and the parents learn more about what may be happening in the minds of their children. This balance of useful scientific knowledge (drawn from research and partnerships with scientific professionals) with an engaging entertaining experience is vital. A further commendation must be made for the way Collar and Cuffs create work that is so engaging on such a tight budget. Showing that good planning and creative use of materials is just as valuable in creating an inclusive environment as spending money on expensive items."
"I was thrilled to hear that Julia has been nominated for this award. To say the recognition is well deserved is an understatement. A “Community Organisation Award” couldn’t be given to a better person because "Community" has been at the heart of everything Julia has done for as long as I've known her. Before "Collars and Cuffs", I have seen Julia create platforms for the LGBTQI Community. I have seen her supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable teenagers through Youth Work. I have seen her campaigning for equality for those whose voices, too often, aren't heard. Now, through her multisensory musical theatre company, Julia continues her campaign for inclusion and a sense of community for all. The work has an incredible impact on those who experience it. Julia has taken personal trauma and her own experiences of social injustice and turned them into positive learning resources for others. Having to manage her own mental health on a daily basis feeds into her shows and gives them an authority that comes from personal experience. She has taken what the ill-informed describe as a 'disadvantage' and shaped it into something that is of incredible advantage to others who are struggling. As Julia now focuses on supporting children with disabilities and complex needs I, again, find myself in awe of this woman's resilience, inner-strength, determination and unshakeable vision. There is a beautiful truth and understanding at the heart of every show she creates and shares. Julia levels with you. Not only with the children in the Audience, but with the Adults too. The Mothers, the Fathers, the Carers, the Sisters, the Brothers, the Grandparents, the Friends. She creates something that we can ALL learn from. You will hear Julia talking about delighting and enthusing children, but I can assure you that her magic works on everyone who is watching. Julia is an inspirational force that I am incredibly proud to call my colleague and friend. I am an Actor and freelance Arts Worker and so Julia and I work in the same industry. I have been lucky enough to watch Julia working and creating for well over a decade. I find myself smiling, as I write this, because I know that there is still so much more to come. "
Wow. Humbled to be recognised in this way.
Then, following that, we heard that we'd been shortlisted as a finalist for The Small Awards in the Sole to Sole category! The awards ceremony is on the 17th of May, and we're very much looking forward to attending.