Big changes

There has been some big changes for me of late, not least of which is I have become a part time wheelchair user, due to my HMS/EDS type 3. This means that I sometimes need a wheelchair to get around, especially if I am going to be on my feet for any length of time.

This obviously has some ramifications for my working life. The first of which is I have decided not to work for the ROH any more as a programme manager for Arts Award. I made this decision with a heavy heart, I find it is much easier to manage my condition when I am free to work when I want to, which is difficult in a 9-5 job. ROH has been nothing but extremely accommodating as I adjust to my disability, but I prefer the flexibility that I had as a freelancer.

I am having a big break over the Christmas holidays, and then I will be back to full speed in the new year.

Of course being in a wheelchair means that actually I won’t be able to do some of the work that I used to do. When I was the event manager for Shakespeare Schools Festival it meant a lot of running around backstage in a lot of theatres, literally running around from one dressing room to the stage and back to another dressing room, then trying to find a group of children who had wandered off etc! I just will not be able to do this in a wheelchair. A lot of theatres are very old and although many adaptations have been made to front of house that has just not been extended to backstage. Many do have disabled facilities, but they are special and there is a lot which is not accessible. One theatre I worked in is an old Victorian terrace backstage, very inaccessible and there are no adaptations that they could make.

I am still able to do the strategic and creative thinking, planning and doing that I love and am good at. I also hope to increase the amount of research and writing that I do as this is something that I enjoyed the most from doing my Masters.

Of course there are adaptations that need to be made, mostly by me, but I think that it shouldn’t stop any of the work that I have been doing recently for clients.

I am really pleased to have been offered some writing opportunities and I will be sharing them as they go live!

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4 Comments

  1. I am sorry to hear about your condition but pleased you are not letting the wheelchair hold you back. I think your blog here does raise wider issues about disabled access to theatres which, as a hearing aid wearer, I believe there is much work to do to improve theatre experiences. Fantastic work you are doing, and good luck with the new writing work

  2. Is that Helen from TI?

    Thank you for your comment, I am indeed not letting this hold me back. THere are many wider issues about disabilty and access to the arts, I am fairly sure that it will become part of the work that I do!

  3. Thank you Jen for sharing your incredible story. It was a brave thing to decide to leave the ROH. Kudos to you for imagining that there is something bigger out there for you. Freelancing could open up possibilities you could never imagine. Great decision to take time off in December. All the best! 😉

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