A SCOTTISH theatre company has unveiled a programme to create new opportunities in the performing arts for disabled people of all ages – including the launch of a youth theatre for learning-disabled teenagers.

Cutting Edge Theatre, based in Edinburgh, has received funding from the ScottishPower Foundation which will help to develop the Inspire Disability Arts programme, with the Cutting Edge Youth Theatre helping to craft opportunities for learning-disabled people aged 14-18.

The theatre company aims to develop a strategy that establishes a clear pathway into theatre from those of primary school age all the way to professional training and employment.

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Suzanne Lofthus, artistic director at Cutting Edge Theatre, said: “It’s about offering equal access to the performing arts. I was able to do drama at school and then join a youth theatre.

“People with disabilities should have the same access I had, whether they want to pursue a career in theatre or just take a class for fun.

“When I started to look to see where in Scotland learning-disabled people could train in performing arts in a supported environment with their peers, the answer is almost nowhere.

“This award from the ScottishPower Foundation means we can start to change that.”

The theatre launched its Young Company for learning-disabled young people last year, in partnership with Capital Theatres and with support from Edinburgh International Festival.

Now the newly unveiled Youth Theatre will be launched in September with drop-in drama classes for children and adults and is developing training which can be accessed online.

Melanie Hill, executive officer and trustee at the ScottishPower Foundation, said: “It’s so important that everyone has equal access to pursue their passions and nobody is excluded because of their disabilities.

“Cutting Edge Theatre does outstanding work to change attitudes towards disabled people in the arts and ensure that everyone can have access to opportunities that many take for granted.

“The Inspire Disability Arts programme and Cutting Edge Youth Theatre are shining examples of the difference ScottishPower Foundation funding can make to help transform people’s lives and I’m so proud that we’re able to play our part in helping people find and develop their creative talents. I have no doubt the programme will be a real hit and I hope it makes a long and lasting difference in ensuring equality for disabled people in the arts and theatre.”