Work of local performer recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Besi Besemar June 12, 2016

Kinny Gardner has received the British Empire Medal for services to the Arts, with particular reference to his extensive and devoted work, for 35 years, within the Deaf and disabled arts communities.

Kinny Gardner: Photo by Robert Workman
Kinny Gardner: Photo by Robert Workman

The Krazy Kat Theatre Company, based in Brighton has a vivid style, combining  theatre and Sign Language Arts which promotes access to the arts for the deaf community, and champions the value of signing to the hearing.

Kinny’s unique vision has led to a distinctive, ambitious and high quality style of integrated Sign Language Arts, and over the 35 years of Krazy Kat’s existence has attracted artists to the company who seek to reflect the ‘lived experience’ of deaf and hard of hearing children and young people.

Founding Artistic Director and Performer Kinny Gardner studied Classical Ballet, graduating in 1976. He featured in London’s West End in The Rocky Horror Show and Chicago, and in rep. and endless world tours.  He is still a guest artist with the outrageous Lindsay Kemp and his company and escapes with them when he can fit it into his busy Kat schedule.

Co-founder of Krazy Kat Theatre Company in 1982, Kinny is a Development Adviser to BBC Cbeebies, working on new mainstream Sign Language television projects for children. In 2014 he received the BBC Community Hero Award for services to The Arts and in 2025 the prestigious Government ‘British Citizens Award (Arts)’.

“This is a total surprise” says 57-year-old Kinny, “Although this unique and massively successful work has a national footprint, or hand print in our case, it is still largely ignored by the mainstream children’s theatre establishment in the UK, and the South East Region. I hope this award will help to draw attention to this  extraordinary work, and might even get us a gig at one of them there posh venues in Brighton Town…”

1,149 people received honours including ageing rocker Rod Stewart who received a knighthood, Dame Vera Lynn who joins the elite Companions of Honour in recognition of her services to entertainment and charity and Major Tim Peake presently on the International Space Station,  who receive the first appointment to the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George for extraordinary service beyond our planet.

70% of the honours have gone to people delivering outstanding work in their communities, 47% are women, 8% are from black or minority ethnic backgrounds and 5% are disabled.

Photo by Robert Workman
Photo by Robert Workman