The creative research output of Safer is based on Hull research into the lived experiences of Hull’s first LGBTQ+ inclusive sports team, the Hull Roundheads RUFC, and dramatically highlights the cultural barriers to team sports faced by LGBTQ+ youth that gay and inclusive clubs seek to overcome. It was written by Dr Sarah Jane Dickenson, produced by Dr David Eldridge and directed by Dr Lucy Fielding. Recent studies commissioned by Stonewall document that 47% of LGBTQ+ people found the culture around sport unwelcoming, intimidating and cited negative experiences in school as responsible for their non-participation in sports in early adulthood Such evidence prompted a 2019 UK Parliamentary Enquiry to express “serious concerns over the effects of low participation among LGB youth on their mental and physical health and well-being.”
Previous audience reaction to Safer acknowledged how “emotional and thought-provoking” this creative research was in “bringing attention to what some LGBTQ+ people have experienced” and how “harmful the cultures of traditional sports environments can be.” The perfromances occurred in in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games in July-August 2022, both in Hull and Birmingham. This creative research thereby acts as an important catalyst in creating opportunities for debate and reflection about inclusion and existing practices. In short, the aim for additional funding is to:
a) further identify the most effective ways of reducing barriers to LGBTQ+ participation in sports and promoting inclusive environments, and
b) increase the impact that Applied Theatre can have in changing attitudes, policies and practices.
c) Ultimatley, improving health benefits, both psychically and mentally of LGBTQ+ individuals through physical exercise.
HIKE funding is therefore sought to extend that research impact, specifically in relation to local community sports organizations, working in tandem with Active Humber, Cornerhouse and Hull Sport. The project plan is to stage four performances of Safer for local and regional community sports organizations in the summer/autumn of 2023. Each performance would then be followed up with two workshops run by Cornerhouse (a local organization affiliated with the Proud Trust) to support the sports clubs in thinking through the issues raised by the play.
Funding is also sought to appoint at research project assistant:
a) To manage the practical tasks of staging the performances, co-ordinating with the sports organizations, actors, venues, technical support, etc.;
b) To collect testimonials and audience response information immediately after performances;
c) To work with the sports organizations and Cornerhouse to collate secondary data of impact (such as revised EDI policies.