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Co-CEO Jamie Hale is One of the Most Influential Disabled People in the UK!

Pathfinders co-CEO, Jamie Hale, is making big waves in another life – and that part of their career is beginning to take off. This year, Jamie was listed in the Shaw Trust Power 100, as one of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. We checked in with Jamie to find out what’s been going on!

Congratulations on making the Shaw Trust listing, Jamie!

“Thanks! On one hand, I’m delighted, but on the other hand, there are so many incredible and influential disabled people I would have expected to be on the list who just weren’t.”

Who comes to mind that you were expecting?

“There’s so many, our very own Fleur Perry and Lucy Watts, then Matilda Ibini from the arts, and Esther Leighton, Michelle Daley, Emma Vogelmann, Eleanor Lisney (co-founder of Sisters of Frida) as campaigners, Liz Carr, the actress, Miro Griffiths the academic and activist, I could go on and on…The problem with lists like these is that they celebrate a few individuals rather than looking at the communities that make a change – communities like Pathfinders.”

With all of Jamie’s great work inside of Pathfinders, it’s easy to forget that Jamie also has a fully-fledged creative career outside of the charity, stretching across multiple disciplines from theatre, to poetry and is also studying for a Masters.

Jamie, when you’re not at Pathfinders, what else do you do?

“I have what you might call a bit of a portfolio career – I work in theatre & the arts so I founded my arts organisation, CRIPtic Arts which focuses on training, developing, and showcasing d/Deaf and disabled creatives. I also have my creative work for theatre, I work as a poet, and I’m moving into screenwriting. On the side, I’m chair of Lewisham Disabled People’s Commission, and doing a Master’s in Philosophy, Politics and Economics of Health.”

Slow down! Tell us a bit about the arts organisation?

“Sure – so I think this organisation is the reason I made the Shaw Trust list. It all started in 2019, where I curated CRIPtic – an event showcasing d/Deaf and disabled performers including my solo show, at the Barbican Centre in London. On the back of the solo show, I won the Evening Standard x Tiktok Future Theatre Fund Director of the Year award earlier this year. I built the organisation from there, and in 2021 ran a mentoring and development programme as part of this year’s CRIPtic event. We’ve now got a showcase coming up at the Barbican Centre on the 19th & 20th of November (and online later), which I’m directing, and featuring incredible artists including Pathfinders member, Miss Jacqui.

As part of that, I’m also interested in researching and designing guidance and expectations for arts organisations around access, looking towards the future. So much needs to change around disablism in the art world, and I want to work on that.”

Sounds great – and sounds like you’re working on some really important stuff in supporting artists and helping to help improve things for the disabled community. Did you mention you also had your own creative work? I hear there’s even more exciting news on the Poetry front!

“Yes! So my own creative work has mostly been in poetry. I had a book of sonnets called ‘Shield’ published in January, but haven’t been able to work on this as much as I’d liked since then because I’ve been so busy. The exciting news (to me) is that this year, I’ve been awarded one of the three Jerwood Fellowships. They are awarded to people who are “making or are capable of making, a significant contribution to a community of poetry” and they’re usually very competitive. I was shortlisted and interviewed back in 2019, but just missed out, so I was delighted to be successful this time around. It means that I can spend time and energy working on my poetry and pulling a collection together, which very much relates to the embodied experience, disability, and nature.”

And what about screenwriting?

“I can’t say much about that – but there’s been a lot of interest, both in my own work and in work done by myself & another person from Pathfinders as a joint project, so hopefully I can be a bit more public about that soon…”

Looks like a lot is going on in the life of Jamie. How does your creative life and arts career connect to your work at Pathfinders?

“I have a policy background and am doing a policy-heavy Master’s at the moment. Ever since I first encountered Pathfinders I was very impressed by the focus on independent living and the amount it achieves, and the idea that I could be part of that is brilliant. I also hope that in some ways the connection between my work at Pathfinders and disability arts can show Pathfinders members that there are ways forward in the arts, and that having what you need to live independently allows you to build a life as fun and fulfilling as the one I’ve created.”

Finally, overall do you think there are these ways forward in the arts for disabled people?

“Not as many as there should be. Whilst there are great disabled artists and organisations out there, the only theatre I know of with a backstage toilet with hoist suitable for performers is at the Barbican Centre. I really went into creating opportunities for disabled people because that was the only way I could have opportunities for myself – since nobody else’s opportunities were accessible. The more I’ve done for myself, the more I want to open doors (and break down barriers) to make the arts more inclusive. This is the thread that ties my work here and my work at CRIPtic Arts together – the idea that disabled people should have the opportunities and support we need to lead the lives we want to lead.”

On behalf of Pathfinders Neuromuscular Alliance, we want to congratulate Jamie on being named on the Shaw list as well as all of the achievements Jamie’s had outside of Pathfinders in poetry and the arts! We’re sure there’s a lot more to come in the coming months and years. 

Don’t worry we’ll keep you all updated on Jamie and all the other great people who are making a difference in our community. This is a great example showing a career in the arts (or in policy) is achievable – including for disabled people.

Keep checking our website for more news as we continue to highlight the achievements of other Pathfinders associates!

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