Six months on and I’m blinking in September’s light, thinking about poverty, injustice, communication and love. There are families and autistic people we can’t reach out to because they don’t have an Internet connection or indeed a camera on their computer. It’s unlikely they are reading this newsletter. I remember hearing Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘free broadband for everyone’ pledge back in November and thinking what a brilliant idea it was. Scorned at the time. I felt my heart heavy when I heard that scorning and that heaviness remains. We work at grassroots level with our community of families in the Flute Dreams project, providing them with an internet source if they need it.It was hard for many reasons before the pandemic to run this company, not least to persuade parents of autistic individuals that theatres would welcome them whilst at the same time persuading the theatres to do the welcoming. But the pressure of the persuading was always outweighed by transcendent moments with autistic people when barriers of fear and anxiety fell away and truth for everyone was in the room. Now we’re online for the foreseeable future experiencing these same moments of truth and the fundamental event is still the same; full of purpose. Everything and nothing has changed.My acts of persuasion belong to the activism around social change that can provide equality of opportunity for artistic participation. There the persuasion ends, the artistic endeavour itself is not persuasive, it’s a search for freedom. Philip Roth said of fiction “Everybody else is working to change, persuade, tempt and control them. The best readers come to fiction to be free of all that noise.” Same goes for Flute’s theatre, real space or virtual, for the duration of our shows our actors and audiences are free from “all that noise”.
-Kelly Hunter MBE-