I am at a loss for words as to why anyone would think that they are so perfect that they could judge anyone else to not be worth paying for work done. I believe passionately that everyone has the right to be treated as an individual, whatever their circumstances, whether that’s being paid the right wage for work done or access to opportunities.
Graeae is an extraordinary theatre company who work with actors who have a range of impairments/disabilities and create performances that are truly accessible. They issued a statement last week following Lord Freud‘s comments expressing their frustration and confusion. It must feel as though so much of what they have worked for in terms of changing perceptions about disability has been thrown away by this whole issue. But perhaps it is actually a productive debate – if nothing else, it has raised the issue of fair pay and discrimination in the public domain again and the outpouring of support for access suggests that the general public does not share Lord Freud’s view.
It raises a more philosophical discussion too – whose work is worth the minimum wage? Is Lord Freud actually suggesting that we discriminate the value of someone’s work on their skin colour, class, education, disability, religion?…To me this is outrageous. Who are we to judge other people on this basis in any context?
Tangle is a theatre company that is approaching this diversity question with a fresh perspective. Founded a few years ago, Tangle achieved National Portfolio status with Arts Council England funding earlier this year because of their work in engaging audiences, performers and the wider public. They tell stories from a range of cultures, bringing them together to represent and engage wider ethnic groups. These are stories that need to be told and celebrated in the same way that we celebrate Shakespeare or Ayckbourn.
As a business, it can be easy to feel under pressure to have to accommodate everyone and that quality is irrelevant in terms of ensuring that everyone else is happy. This is of course not the case but rather we need to recognise that celebrating diversity in all its forms is part of not only fulfilling quality assurance in the delivery of our products or services but is part of quality enhancement. Diversity brings new perspectives that can enable a business to really thrive both economically and socially, so let’s appreciate and value all of those inputs!
Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky