A photograph of seven or eight people having a huge pillow fight on a double bed on a stage. There are feathers flying everywhere!

Remembering those we have lost in 2020

2020 has been a hard, hard year for everyone – but even more so for disabled people who make up  two thirds of those lost to Covid 19. In January 2021, as part of Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival, there will be a moment to mark disabled people we have lost from our cultural sector this year – due to Covid or other reasons. Jo Verrent, Senior Producer, explains why this is happening, and how to add to the memorial. (This blog has been amended to include additional names; these were shared publicly at Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival on 15 Jan 2021.) 

This year has taken much from all of us – in obvious ways and also in those ways that sneak up behind you and dig you deep and fast in the ribs, without you seeing them coming. 

For me, it’s robbed me of travel, hugs with my mother and my grandchildren, my chances to see art and artists up close and personal, and so much more. 

Most painfully of all, it’s taken some of my personal friends and colleagues and left me little space to hold time to truly reflect on what they meant to me, as wave after wave of news pushes relentlessly on, sweeping away plans to hold a private moment to hold them in my focus and remember. 

One of the most moving works I have seen online, that gave me a way to feel and hold the pain of people passing, was Each and Everyone, by Jo Paul, a durational work of building threads, each representing a life that was lost. The idea of holding onto each life matters. 

I don’t want to let the chaos of 2020 mean that people don’t get the time and space to be remembered. 

In January, as part of Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival, we will have a moment of remembrance. Just a short moment to list, and give space to, disabled artists, arts activists, and arts workers we’ve lost during 2020. The updated list is as follows: 

Geof Armstrong, who set up the National Disability Arts Forum and most recently worked as the director of Arcadea. 

Lucy Hale, (1994-2021), Composer, Young Composer-in-residence with Orchestras For All.

Chris Ledger, who was Chief Executive Officer at University of Atypical, in Northern Ireland and who previously worked for Arts Council Northern Ireland. 

Rebecca Luker(1961-2020) Tony Nominated Actor.

Lyn Levett(1960-2020) Composer, Musician & Sonic-artist. 

Peter Radtke(1943-2020) Actor, Academic and Activist.

Dave Toole, one of the founding members of Candoco Dance Company, who worked with many companies including DV8, Graeae, and StopGap, as a soloist in the Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Paralympic Games and created work for the initial London 2012 Unlimited commissions. (Bursary fund collection here.) 

Sian Vasey, another stalwart of the early disability arts movement who also worked as a BBC producer, a writer, and an activist on many issues. 

Harvey Waterman(unknown-2020) Longest Standing Member Of Access All Areas.

Sharon Louise Ellen Wieland, (1977-2020) Company Member Of Theatr Wildcats,
Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon.

Phillip Zarrilli(1947-2020) Director, Teacher and Trainer.

As Issac Newton said: ‘”if I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” These are just some of our giants. 

We know there will be more. Sadly, many more. And we know that they all deserve to be remembered.