MORE than 50 disabled campaigners including TV stars, MSPs and charity executives are demanding that cuts to arts funding are reversed.

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.

HeraldScotland:

Purposeless Movements, Birds of Paradise

Now in a letter, signed by over 50 disabled people, co-ordinated by Jamie Szymkowiak and Pam Duncan-Glancy of the One in Five campaign group, urges Creative Scotland to reconsider the decisions and to "demonstrate leadership in ensuring the arts remains inclusive for all..."

The letter says: We, the undersigned, are a collective of disabled people from across Scotland who believe the arts needs to be more inclusive and representative, not less. The decisions taken by Creative Scotland are a threat to this.

"We urge you to reconsider these decisions and in doing so demonstrate leadership in ensuring the arts remains inclusive for all – including disabled people."

Included among the signatories are Hollyoaks star Amy Conachan and award winning actress Caroline Parker as well as Bill Scott, Inclusion Scotland's director of policy and Glasgow Disability Alliance chief executive Tressa Burke.

HeraldScotland:

On release of the letter to Creative Scotland, Jamie Szymkowiak said: "I can't write and campaign about disabled people's representation and see two of Scotland's leading theatre companies lose their funding without a fight.

"We're looking at organising a demonstration against these cuts should the letter not have the desired effect. I hope this letter shows the strength of feeling across Scotland's disabled community and leads Creative Scotland to reverse their decision."

Pam Duncan-Glancy added: “If we’ve learned something from the scandals surrounding the film and arts industry lately, surely it is that equality and representation are paramount.

"Funding cuts to organisations that seek to improve representation and tip the balance of an industry lacking in representation are a direct threat to this. "We need more support for disabled people in the arts, not less. I sincerely hope Creative Scotland recognise this and reconsider.”

HeraldScotland:

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

Last year the group, which celebrates its silver anniversary. 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.

The group said after hearing the news: "It feels that disabled artists do not fit into the artistic mould or community, and this is the most devastating message of all."

"In our 25 years of advocating for disabled artists, promoting access, diversity and inclusion through our work, we continue to be devastated at Creative Scotland decision to cut our RFO."

HeraldScotland:

A Creative Scotland spokesperson said: “Creative Scotland is fully committed to supporting equalities, diversity and inclusion across all of our funding, including disabled artists and disability led organisations.

"We have committed to maintaining current funding levels for both Lung Ha and Birds of Paradise Theatre until the end of September 2018 and are meeting both organisations to explain our decisions and discuss options for future funding routes beyond this period.”

Creative Scotland has said that the portfolio of supported companies includes 21 Common, which includes learning-disabled artist Iain Johnston.