Michael McEwan: How Limelight Music is addressing disability inequality in the arts


CommonSpace columnist Michael McEwan explains how Limelight Music is helping more disabled people get into the performing arts sector

THERE are a lot of good disability organisations in Scotland which do great development work. One of these is Limelight Music, previously known as Sounds of Progress.

Limelight Music is an equality professional music training and production company. For over 25 years, it has been delivering high quality inclusive music projects across Scotland and in Europe.

Limelight Music is the largest employer of disabled musicians in Scotland, and has two main aims:

  • 1.) To address current inequality by creating pathways to employment for people with impairments within the performing arts;
  • 2.)  To enhance employment prospects for disabled people by implementing early intervention music projects within schools.

I do some work for this organisation, to promote the work it does. From its base in Glasgow, it collaborates with local authorities, schools, music producers and mainstream theatre companies to create new projects in eduction and in the entertainment industries.  

Limelight provides music training sessions for over 1,200 school pupils and 30 disabled adults throughout each year. Over half of its 16-strong workshop tutors and leaders are highly skilled, talented disabled musicians.

Back in 1989, as part of the build up to Glasgow becoming the European City of Culture, Gordon Dougall was employed as musical director/composer on ‘City’ (written by John McGrath, directed by Alan Lyddiard, commissioned by Bob Palmer for Glasgow City Council). While working on this production, Dougall observed that a number of people with disabilities were brought into the project very late in the process, giving them less opportunity to participate fully.

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The organisation runs a number of different projects and programmes, and is always looking for new talent to get involved and be part of the team. For enquiries regarding volunteer positions, training opportunities and future projects, please e-mail info@limelightmusic.org.uk, or visit the website.

In my view, organisations like this one can’t get promoted highly enough, and as part of my role there I use a number of social media platforms to promote the organisation. 

I noticed it a few years ago when it was called Sounds of Progress, and since its rebrand it has continued to do great work. I enjoy working with the team, publicising the work Limelight is doing and encouraging more people with a disability into performing arts.

Picture courtesy of HendersonStateU

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