Rugby World Cup winner Ben Cohen launches search for aspiring young deaf talent

Former England ruby union winger and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Ben Cohen wants deaf young people across the UK to enter Raising the Bar to showcase their talents at the performing arts workshops run by the National Deaf Children’s Society.

Raising the Bar – which began in 2015 – was created to raise expectations and demonstrate what the 45,000 deaf children and young people in the UK can achieve in performing arts.

Ben Cohen, who played a starring role in the 2003 Rugby World Cup and who is deaf, said:

“For those deaf children and young people in the UK who are excited and interested in drama, acting, dancing and music, they should all check out Raising the Bar and see how they can apply and get involved.

“It’s such a great way to build confidence and show that for a deaf young person, you can achieve anything a hearing person can, and can absolutely get involved in the arts if that’s what you love and are passionate about.”

To be in with a chance of being selected to take part in the workshops, deaf young people must submit videos of their dance, drama, music or signed song routines. There are 24 places available with the final showcase taking place 12-13 May in the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre, Birmingham. The final deadline for applications is 25 February 2018.

The three workshops and final showcase will provide aspiring young actors, dancers and musicians with the opportunity to demonstrate their passion, talents and prowess in performing arts.

Libby Welsh from Oxfordshire who’s attended the workshops and final showcase three times explained the positive impact of the National Deaf Children’s Society’s flagship event:

“Raising The Bar is an inspiring, comforting, and empowering event for those who take part in the workshops.”

Industry experts Music and the Deaf, Deaf Men Dancing and Deafinitely Theatre will provide advice and coaching tips to the selected applicants. The National Deaf Children’s Society staff will also be supporting the participant’s on their journey.

Bryony Parkes, Youth Development Officer and organiser of Raising the Bar, said:

“Raising the Bar is about making the performing arts more inclusive and having high expectations of deaf children, not just so they can participate but so they can thrive.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity for them to meet other deaf peers with the same passion as them. I have been consistently proud and amazed at the quality of the performance and skill demonstrated by deaf young people who have attended Raising the Bar since 2015.”

Ben Cohen, who is championing this year’s event added:

“The final showcase for Raising the Bar in Birmingham will give deaf children the chance to get together, learn new skills with some incredible professionals, and ultimately demonstrate the level of talent there is among deaf children and young people.

“It’s brilliant to support such an amazing event and I hope many more people take this opportunity and enter Raising the Bar this year.”


Article contributed by: Liam Collins