A shake up in the Arts, Deen Hallissey is raring to introduce himself


In early 2020 Disability Arts Online began partnering with London-based performance company Access All Areas on ‘Lead’ – a bespoke leadership development program and coaching culture for potential learning disabled / autistic leaders, funded by Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership programme.

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Selfies with Perspective. Photos Deen Hallissey

Deen Hallissey is one of eight aspiring leaders who were chosen for a range of part-time training roles (sign up to Access All Areas mailing list to hear more about the other leaders).

Deen is now Disability Arts Online’s Digital Influencer, working part-time with us until the end of 2021 using his creative talent and social media skills to help support our aim to create greater accessibility and audience reach. He begins his output next week with a takeover of Disability Arts Online’s Instagram platform.

To date Deen has been helping us understand how he sees the world as an autistic creative person. He’s been learning about Disability Arts Online and our social media platforms and has been making video diaries and digital content to introduce himself to our audience. He has been researching artists and thinking about ways to use social media as part of a plan to develop and utilise new skills.

Deen’s creative life started a few years ago when he began taking his interest in performing more seriously. He went for a photoshoot, and through his childhood mate Cian Binchy got on to Access All Areas Performance making Diploma towards the end of 2015.

“We had a graduation performance and my group did These Four Walls. I’ve worked with Black Cab Company and on lots of projects with Access All Areas. Madhouse and Joy. And myself and Imogen, the lead on Joy, were both on Channel 4 News promoting the show! I’m a performer but for me that covers a lot of categories – acting, creating photography it’s all about being creative. I’d say I’m more of an artist, or a creative artist if you get my drift.”

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Access All Areas production ‘JOY’ with actors Deen Hallissey (Paul) and Imogen Roberts (Joy). Photo © Matthew Foster

Through the role as Disability Arts Online’s Digital Influencer Deen plans to gain new perspectives on working in the arts:

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The Hole In The Sky. Photo Deen Hallissey

“I’m working from home for the first time in my life – not that that was my choice, given what’s happening, but I’m still learning from it! There’s a lot I want to get out of it. The knowledge and independence, of how to be self-employed, to give me more confidence and open doors to help me promote my creative work. I’ve done creative writing and other things but have never had the chance to push it to a bigger audience, or to get it out onto a bigger platform.”

“Taking a lead with the unique way I see the world as an autistic person, I am creating digital content including, video diaries, photos, interviews, podcasts to share with neurodiverse and learning disabled audiences. The content will be based on my research about artists, creatives and their work. This includes exhibitions, videos, theatre, and online content.”

“I’m a little nervous, but I’m also excited to be working with Disability Arts Online. This is a new step for me, I’ve been waiting for this to occur since god knows when. Excited but nervous would be the right title for how I’m feeling about it!”

Deen has been posting stories through his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts for several years sharing his interests in the alternative scene. He will be introducing himself and his digital output through a Disability Arts Online Instagram Takeover from Monday 27th April to Friday 1st May.

Stay tuned to find out about further developments in the work of Disability Arts Online and Access All Areas Transforming Leadership project.