Research and Conferences

photo of people sitting in a circle talking and listening

We talked about the different ways people can be leaders at DIY


Defining Moments: Leadership and Learning Disability Theatres’ is a substantial research project. It looks at what leadership within Learning Disability Theatres, like DIY Theatre Company, can and could be.

Click this link to see the full thesis from Manchester Universities website.


Presentations, and papers at conferences, based on the findings of the ‘Defining Moments: Leadership and Learning Disability Theatres’ research have been presented at a number of conferences and events including:

A Question of Leadership Conference (Liverpool Hope University, September 2018).

Disability and Disciplines: The International Conference on Educational, Cultural, and Disability Studies (Centre for Culture and Disability Studies, Liverpool Hope University, 2017)

Paulo Freire and Transformative Education: Changing Lives and Transforming Communities Conference (UCLAN, Preston, 2014)


Photo of the Friday Group

DIY Leaders made a ‘human machine’ to demonstrate leadership at the A Question of Leadership Conference in 2018

DIY Theatre co-hosted ‘A Question of Leadership Conference’ with Curious Minds.

The conference brought together teachers, cultural organisations, artists, performers and academics to hear inspiring stories about inclusive leadership and research across the education and arts sectors and to question notions of leadership and research.

The event was opened brilliantly by DIY’s patron Jenny Sealey MBE, who introduced us to her own definition of leadership:

L – learning, language (keep it clear, to the point and understandable)

E – enrich, enable, educate, excite, empower

A – Authentic , advocate, act, activist, accountability, awareness, articulate, access

D – Dare, direction, debate, decision making, destiny, dismantle barriers

E – Enabler, empathy encourage

R – Risk, responsibility, role models, retell the story, recreate the norm, rights, research

S – support shape, share, skill up

H – help, harness, hone, hope

I – Independence, individuality, inspire, initiate, ignite, inclusive, invigorate, investigate

P – provocate, prompt, participate, play to strengths, play, proactive, presence, policy, politics, pathways, progression


Sue Caudle presented a session based on her research thesis ‘Defining Moments: Leadership and Learning Disability Theatres’ and DIY’s Leadership Group ran a workshop about leadership at DIY.

photo of group performing and laughing

We had lots of laughs as groups demonstrated thoughts on Leadership with ‘human machines’

We asked people to reflect on everything they’d heard and talked about during the day and to create a ‘human machine’ made of sounds and actions to communicate what they thought was most important about leadership. Ideas included:

  • Sharing Ideas
  • Listening
  • Loud Voice
  • Compassion
  • Considering Everybody
  • Taking turns
  • Think of the audience
  • Team
  • Everyone on Board


The best things about the conference: Delegates feedback:

To see and hear disabled people being leaders and fully included.

Good ideas for encouraging shared leadership.

DIY Theatre’s demo workshop [blush!]

Listening to presentation from DIY, SLICE presentations, relationship between schools and arts organisations – ideas for the future.

It was a chance to reflect on my skills as a leader.

Seeing how all these schemes and organisations work in practice, finding out about things going on, getting to meet people.

Talks and practical workshops. Hearing about the way in which other organisations create space and opportunity for artists and other professionals with learning disabilities to be a leader in different ways.

DIY Theatres research into applied theatre. Reminded that there are other forms of communication and to apply that more in our practice.