The benefits of accommodating neurodiverse performers

Considering the accessibility needs of performers who are not neurotypical will lead to a more equitable sector.
A red leaved tree stands out in a forest of green.

If all things are on a spectrum and we dissolve the division between the extremes of diva antics and legitimate self-advocacy, the performing arts sector often sets a very low bar for standards of accessibility for neurodiverse artists outside the realm of the elite.

For an industry that is magnetic to people with unique perspectives and self-expression, it is often very hostile to the sensitivities that artists can have, which, especially for neurodiverse people, are a matter of urgency, not preference. Greater academic understanding and a recent surge in public awareness have both put a spotlight on neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism and ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and while we are beginning to see traditional workplaces consider access needs and offer reasonable accommodations, the conventions of performance practice often dictate certain barriers that deserve reconsidering, even outside of strictly disability-led domains.

Unlock Padlock Icon

Unlock this content?

Access this content and more

Celeste Willoughby is musician and emerging writer based in Naarm/Melbourne. Building on her practice as a pianist and composer, Celeste has established a voice as a music critic with a focus on instrumental piano, neoclassical and ambient music releases from artists globally. She specialised in music composition for her bachelor degree at Box Hill Institute, and has produced solo music releases and collaborated on films, theatre and dance works. As a queer neurodivergent artist, she is passionate about social advocacy and is pursuing wider critical engagement of creative practice and performance culture.