Time and Space to do things better – our NPO journey has begun!

Photo: Time and Space to do things better – our NPO journey has begun!

Time and Space to do things better

It’s five months since DIY became a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO). In November 2022 we were very excited to hear the news that we had been offered funding from Arts Council England as part of its 2023-26 Investment Programme. In April this year we started our NPO journey!

For almost 30 years DIY has operated on very tight budgets, on a project-by-project and freelance basis. This is the first time we have ever been offered core funding and is a major landmark for the company. Becoming one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio of Funded Organisations is enabling us to strengthen DIY as an organisation.

photo of a table covered in post it notes. We can read "Time and space to do things better," "Not prepared to change what's good - change the arts council", "Fund all the little bits", "New Skills, energy', "Shared responsibility and team working", "concern - lose what's special to us".

A Change Plan for DIY

Becoming an NPO brings fantastic opportunities which will mean some changes at DIY. We have spent time developing a ‘Change Plan’ to help us involve everybody who is part of the organisation to prepare for the future.

Because so much is so new to DIY,  we have been getting help and support from some specialists from outside the organisation.  Thanks to Adam Holloway, from Cheshire Dance, who has been helping us to establish our Business Director post. Thanks also to Caz Brader from Theatre Porto and experienced Change Consultant, Pauline Bell, who have been guiding us through the process of introducing change.

Our Board, Advisory Group and all members of staff, will have the opportunity to contribute to the Change Plan for DIY Theatre Company.

photo - there are four people sitting around a white table, the people look thoughtfull and calm. Two of the people are looking a person on the far side of the table. It looks like they are about to say something which will be written down by the person on the left who is holding a pen and has a piece of pink paper in front of them.

The process started earlier this year with a full-day session with all Board members facilitated by Caz Brader. We spent time exploring what it’s like when things change and how we can prepare for that change. We thought about the new jobs we are introducing into the company and asked good questions about what each of the roles would do.

This was followed by a staff session. Here members of DIY’s freelance staff team explored how the new jobs could support the work of DIY and made suggestions about the new structure – particularly around how roles should interact and support each other.

With all the information and ideas developed during these sessions we were ready to start creating our Change Plan for the Organisation.

We held a really good session with DIY’s Board and members of the Advisory Group.  Thanks to Pauline Bell, who facilitated. We spent time thinking about the opportunities becoming an NPO can bring to the organisation. We also re-affirmed what is important to DIY and should not be allowed to change.

At the session we began by looking at where we are now and where we want to be. Following on from that we looked at all the things that need to be in place to help us get there.

photo showing some faces drawn on paper circles ontop of some coloured paper with writing on. We can't see much of the writing as its a close up photo. The face on the left has scribbled blue hair, round green glasses a closed mouth with red lipstick lips. The face on the right has brown wavey hare, big blue eyes, a smiley pink mouth and lots of dotty freckels in purple all over the face. There is another face in a circle at the bottom of the photo, this one has a smaller head drawn in the middle with short orange hair and a simple smiley face ane ears. radiating around the head are lots of purple and green lines which end in stars.

Some things will not change

DIY have lots of truly ambitious plans, but what will not change are our values and our vision as an organisation.

Our vision is a world where performers and creative leaders with learning disabilities are valued as part of the rich diversity of our cultural sector and our society.

We will continue to:

  • Challenge preconceptions and barriers through high quality performances, education projects and research.
  • Celebrate diversity and creativity in all areas of our work
  • Promote the achievements of performers, leaders and theatre-makers with learning disabilities and share good practice.

New faces – a positive change.

The NPO status has enabled DIY to bring in new people with fresh ideas, skills and experiences to help us build for the future.

John Leyland joined DIY at the beginning of July in the role of Business Director. John is working with us 3.5 days per week. His critical task will be sustaining the increased level of funding the NPO brings. As DIY’s Business Director, John has a co-leadership role within the organisation, shared with our Creative Director, Sue Caudle. Having ten years working at the Arts Council, John brings lots of skills and experience to help DIY grow and flourish.

Clare Hillyer joined us at the beginning of September in the role of Access Co-ordinator. Clare is working with us 1.5 days a week. She has a crucial role in the organisation – ensuring that each member can participate and work towards their full potential. Clare also works in further education supporting young adults with learning disabilities towards independence and employment. She brings lots of great skills and ideas and we look forward to working with her.

Fergus Ashcroft-Walsh will be joining us this September in the role of Finance Officer. Fergus will be working with us 2 days a week and will help to manage DIY’s finances by keeping track of our income and controlling our spending. He has a strong background in accounting, finance and the arts. Throughout his career and personal life Fergus has engaged in many community music and performance pieces. We very much look forward to welcoming Fergus to DIY.


DIY Theatre Company is supported using public funding by Arts Council England. It is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO). Our thanks to Arts Council England.

Arts Council England logo

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture.

We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.