DISABLED performers say they "feel like they don't belong in the arts" after the national funding body made swingeing cuts to three companies that work with people with disabilities.

Robert Softley Gale, director and actor and leading of Birds of Paradise, which lost its £450,000 funding from the arts agency this week, said the company, the only disabled-led theatre organisation in Scotland, now faces an uncertain future.

Creative Scotland stripped more than £1m in funding in total from three key companies who work with or for the disabled.

Birds of Paradise, Janice Parker Projects and Lung Ha all lost their regular funding deals in the Regular Funding Organisations (RFO) decisions unveiled by the arts funding body.

Mr Gale, based in Glasgow, said: "By Creative Scotland cutting us in this way, it feels that these disabled stories aren’t meant to be part of the arts ecology in Scotland and that it is no longer a strategic priority to have an exemplar of a disabled led company that guarantees disabled people and their stories are present in our theatre culture."

He added that it felt that Creative Scotland had sent the message that for disabled artists "their work isn't strategically important to Scottish culture - that they don't belong here.

"Disabled people have incredible stories to tell about their lives and experiences and I believe that the Scottish arts scene is enriched by these stories - Creative Scotland clearly don't share that view, despite saying that they do for decades."

Birds of Paradise lost its vital RFO funding in the year it celebrates its silver anniversary.

Last year it worked with 47 artists, held disability equality training sessions with 197 people across 12 organisations, and this year will stage My Left/Right Foot with the National Theatre of Scotland at the Fringe.

He added: "Central to the impact that we have, and the benefits that we bring to the arts in Scotland, is the role that we play in putting the stories of disabled people on stage; both for artists and audiences.

"Be these stories of men with Cerebral Palsy who are husbands and fathers, or stories of disabled dancers in 19th century Paris, or stories for young people to show them strong role models who are disabled."

Janice Parker, whose work includes work with disabled dancers, said: "It is certainly a tumultuous time and I feel saddened, shocked, perplexed and concerned.

"I am not talking about me specifically or us at JPP here, though we are certainly in the mix, I am talking about the bigger picture of our cultural landscape, our sustainability, the simplicity, complexity and suitability of funding structures for all kinds of artists, our diversity, our development and how we move forward from this point."

A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland said that the portfolio of companies revealed this week includes 21 Common, which includes learning-disabled artist Iain Johnston.

She added: "Equalities, diversity and inclusion (EDI) are woven through the network, from the sector-leading participative work of Drake Music Scotland and Paragon Ensemble, to the dynamic output of hard-to-reach young people working with Tinderbox Collective, the inclusive nature of programmes devised by Glasgow East Arts Company at Platform and Luminate Festival, and Solar Bear who work with deaf performers, theatre makers and young people."

Janet Archer, chief executive of Creative Scotland, said: "Announcing and communicating funding decisions is always a sensitive time.

"We have now entered into a period of discussions with individual Regular Funding applicants, unsuccessful and successful, from across the art forms and creative areas that we support.

"All organisations coming out of Regular Funding will receive six months transition funding from April 2018."

She added: "We have received significant comment on our decisions around children’s theatre and disability led arts.

"We are currently in discussions with the companies concerned and representatives from these sectors to explain our decisions and rationale and discuss how we can continue to work positively together in the future."