We Shall Not Be Removed – An open letter to UK Culture Ministers


Over 100 leading Disabled artists and cultural leaders have today sent an open letter to The Secretary of State for Culture, Oliver Dowden MP, and devolved UK Culture Ministers, demanding safeguards to protect the future of disability arts in the UK as a consequence of Covid19.

Drake Music have signed the letter as part of our commitment to the WeShallNotBeRemoved campaign, and to advocate for the wider community of Disabled musicians and young people that we work with.

A screen capture from a Zoom call shows lots of faces in a grid format
A screen capture from a We Shall Not Be Removed group Zoom.

The letter warns that the pandemic has magnified inequalities for disabled people working in the creative industries and that many are facing long term shielding, loss of income and invisibility in wider society.

Disabled cultural leaders are calling on the government to:

  • extend the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) beyond August
  • to prioritise involvement of disabled people in cultural policy
  • to ensure the renewal and recovery of the cultural sector is more inclusive and offers greater access and representation

The open letter was organised by the new UK Disability Arts Alliance #WeShallNotBeRemoved, which Drake Music is an active member of.

The alliance is an emergency response led by disabled people for disabled people working across the UK’s creative industries in every capacity and across artforms.

Andrew Miller, UK Government Disability Champion for Arts & Culture said:

“The speed of recovery planning risks excluding many creative disabled people. So it is essential the UK Government ensures cultural renewal is planned inclusively with creative disabled people at its heart”.

Carien Meijer, Chief Exec of Drake music added:

“Amidst the significant challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis, the threat to our lively and hard-won Disability Arts scene in the UK is acute. However, we hope that through disruption will come change for the better… an arts sector with equality, access, diversity and inclusion at its very heart. A society where Disabled people are represented at every level, across all the arts, on every stage, in every space and every audience. Together with our friends, colleagues and allies we will continue to campaign and fight for radical and lasting change.”

We shall not be removed logo in white on purple

Quotes from across Disability Arts:

Jenny Sealey MBE, CEO & Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre said: “It is vital we work collectively to support each other through and after the storm of Covid19 and ensure that our disabled community is at the heart of evolving arts policy and practice”.

Robert Softley Gale, Artistic Director of Scotland’s Birds of Paradise Theatre Company said:
“Covid19 threatens everything we’ve worked towards unless we ensure that our response is solid and places disabled people at the centre of all discussions about our future.”

Amit Sharma, Deputy Director of Birmingham Rep said:
“Deaf and disabled people have made a significant contribution across the arts locally, nationally and internationally. It’s taken huge progress to just get here and it cannot be right that Birmingham Rep is in a tiny group of organisations that employs disabled people at senior level within our industry. If we’re not part of the conversation then there’s a real danger we go backwards. We can not become invisible again”

Jo Verrent, Senior Producer of UK commissions programme Unlimited said:
“Isolated and increasingly ignored by many, disabled people MUST be at the centre of the cultural sector to come, one that is both physical and virtual, includes all and excludes no one”

About #WeShallNotBeRemoved

#WeShallNotBeRemoved is an emergency response to COVID-19. It is forum to advocate, to campaign and support D/deaf, Neurodiverse and Disabled creative practitioners and organisations through and after Covid19.

The aims of the alliance are:

  • To ensure a sustainable future for disability and inclusive arts in the UK through and after the pandemic
  • To amplify the voices of D/deaf, Neurodiverse and Disabled creative practitioners, arts workers & disability arts organisations at a time of crisis for the arts and for disabled people

Membership of #WeShallNotBeRemoved is free, open to all individual D/deaf, Neurodiverse and Disabled creative practitioners and disability-focused organisations operating in the UK’s creative industries.

Within a month of forming the alliance has attracted over 350 members, but and is continuing to actively seek more members, including reaching out to Disabled people who are Black, Asian or from other Ethnic Minority groups.

Join the movement

To join #WeShallNotBeRemoved contact:


WeShallNotBeRemoved website

Please also follow the hashtag on social media and share and retweet to support.

Read the letter

The letter & signatories list is available in full on the Graeae website, including audio, Easy Read and BSL interpreted versions.

Visit the Graeae website

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