Photo: Proud & Loud Arts

I have been an associate artist with Proud & Loud Arts since 2003. I have seen them grow from a youth group into a dynamic professional level theatre company producing theatre, films, live art and street theatre exploring the issue of living with a disability, particularly in response to interaction with the non-disabled world, drawing on personal experiences with both emotional honesty and a good dose of humour.

Projects have moved from traditional touring theatre to working in public spaces:

Cells – A Body of Work is a collection of live art installations by Proud & Loud Arts created in response to the Manchester Evening News report, in October 2015, describing a 140% rise in reported hate crime incidents against people with disabilities

These witty yet challenging artworks offer a thought provoking and creative glimpse into the extraordinary and explore the stigma often attached to those who dare to be different. I worked as Design Mentor, collaborating closely with each artist to develop design holistically with performance and making the design elements reality.

Affirmations is a group piece to accompany Cells. I created an installation for this work based around an IKEA Lack table, looking at the distortion from the known standard. 

Shadow Girl -The City Streets was originally one of the solo pieces in Cells. Proud & Loud Arts received funding from Hazard festival to turn it into a group street theatre piece, expanding their numbers by bringing in members from other local disability led companies from Salford & Bolton. This has now been developed into a touring show for libraries.

Comic drawn by Lizzie Finlay was handed out during performance to help engage & explain.

Christmas with the Cratchits is a new Christmas show based on the Dicken’s classic “A Christmas Carol” adapted by Proud and Loud member Danielle Maycox. A R&D version was shared at Gorse Hill Studios in 2019 and had hoped to develop a full show in 2020 but unfortunately was prevented by covid.

The SPACED crew take you on an exhilarating journey through the cosmos. Expect chaos and hilarity which will take you out of this world. SPACED has been developed by a creative team led by Michael Gleave. Together they created a new comedy show which explores the creation of a SPACE to experience freedom, joy, and connection. 

Visual Arts : I have always run visual arts workshops with the group as part of the devising process but over lockdown I created a specific Art Challenge; delivering art packs and workshop videos which developed into an online art group drawing together over zoom, setting personal art tasks and exploring art history. I mentored members to create professionally printed Christmas cards to raise money for the charity and to apply for the Manchester Open.

After lockdown the art group got funding to continue with live sessions while the company and members readjusted post-covid. I mentored They explored various art techniques and materials: drawing, collage, printing, digital art, plastic fusing, stitch, model making, marbling, masks, puppets. We visited the Grayson Perry exhibition together and also a trip out to the Manchester Open to see Phil’s successful entry.

Although these sessions have stopped as the group have returned to developing performance work, I have been back running workshops exploring archetypes and creating characters including some costume design.

Tom Hogan is Artist Director of Proud & Loud Arts and directs their performances.

Affirmations and Shadow Girl – The City Streets were choreographed by Susan Swanton.

Cells – A Body of Work and Affirmations were premiered at Manchester Art Gallery.