March the 23rd marks a year since the first national lockdown. Whilst there is hugely positive news of the vaccine roll out, we also know that many families with a disabled child still have no clear end in sight, as the vaccine isn’t licensed for children yet. The pandemic has heightened inequalities: as has been stated many times throughout, ‘We are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat’. With this continued state of limbo for many, it feels important to mark the passage of a year. To remember those we lost, and to celebrate simply just getting through.
March 23rd marks a year of no touch. Not only is touch the centre-point of Oily Cart’s work, but for many who face multiple barriers to access, it is the main channel of communication. Touch is the only sense that humans can’t live without. So we celebrate a year of finding new ways to connect and hold each other. For Oily Cart that has meant performing personalised songs on doorsteps and online, creating packages for individual family members with craft and care, and working with new sound technologies to create intimacy from a distance.
It marks a year of ripping up the rulebook of theatre. A year ago Oily Cart created an Uncancellable Programme, so that we’d be sure our work could still reach families. This took colossal efforts from producers and creatives behind the scenes, with mind-boggling risk assessments, and shifting plans. Thank you for your patience with us as we figured it out. In the most limiting of situations, there are always possibilities. Imagination and creativity is more valuable and necessary than ever.
It marks a whole year of cancelled work – tours, shows and contracts, which highlighted the resilience and resourcefulness of freelancers working in theatre. None of our work would happen without these incredibly talented, resourceful individuals.
A year of discovering how to give yourself pink eyebrows on Zoom calls, of simultaneously missing people, and not having enough space. A year of grit and shared vulnerability. A year for many in Oily Cart’s extended community of having to shout out to not be forgotten.
Oily Cart sends this message to our community – children and young people, families and freelance artists – we salute you. Your resilience, your creativity and your courage.
Our promise is to not move forwards without you right there with us. We won’t be in venues until disabled children, young people and artists can be there too. We will continue to prioritise people with the most barriers to access, by extending our Uncancellable Programme over the next year. We won’t go quiet and we won’t play it safe.
So here’s to the next chapter of this strange adventure. We are proud, we are grateful, we are shaken but we are hopeful. Most of all, we send our love and solidarity to families. We are not in the same boat. We are proudly alongside you.