Space to be different: How we plan to make arts accessible to everyone, no matter how complex their disabilities

Man and woman reaching up performing art

We are delighted to be launching our new inclusive arts plan Space to be Different 2019- 2022. The plan sets out how we want to bring art and social care closer together and support disabled artists and art-makers to be leaders in their field. Space to be Different sets out our vision for creating a national arts programme with Sense TouchBase Pears in Birmingham as the centre of excellence in inclusive arts.

See below for the first steps towards making the plan a reality.

Launch Event

We were thrilled to welcome friends and supporters to the launch of ‘Space to be Different’ on Thursday 13 June at Sense TouchBase Pears in Birmingham. It was wonderful to share our plans with so many engaged audience members from across the arts, social care, health and cultural sectors. We are excited about making new connections and collaborations that will help us achieve our mission to make art inclusive to everyone.

A lady talking to a room full of people, the picture is taken from the back of the room

Who are Sense Arts?

We are Arts. We are Social Care.

Sense Arts is a unique and diverse programme of inclusive arts, events and learning that puts people with complex disabilities at the forefront of creative excellence. We believe that through the arts, we can better connect with others and the world around us, find new ways to express what we mean and uncover new layers of richness in our lives.

The Strategy

Space to be Different is about creating an equal platform where everyone has the time and space to take part in high quality arts programmes. Over the next three years we are committed to creating enriching arts and cultural experiences for people with complex disabilities and supporting their creative development as artists and leaders through employment and commissioning opportunities. It sets out our plans for bringing arts and social care closer together and making more people aware of the benefits of inclusive arts on health and wellbeing. We want to support the arts and cultural sectors to champion greater access for people with complex disabilities and train more artists and social care staff in inclusive practice so that we develop a sustainable skills base for inclusion in the arts.

Man helping a lady experience a sensory art installation

Over the next three years we will focus on:

People – supporting people in their creative development
Programme – creating more art with more people
Place – increasing access to culture
Profile – sharing the impact of inclusive arts

The strategy was created in collaboration with Sense staff, local artists, and the wider community at Sense Touchbase Pears. It was generously funded by the Arts Council of England.

The launch event

We invited people from across the health, social care, arts and cultural sectors to join us as we launched our new strategy. This was an opportunity for the arts and care sector to think about what inclusion means for people with complex disabilities and how we can work together towards better outcomes for people.

“Inclusive art is core to what we do, it’s important for everyone to feel in the moment and a sense of achievement” – Richard Kramer, CEO Sense

A person is touching some leaves at an internal garden.

The launch featured new work by artists and art-makers engaged in our programme and provided a chance to meet and experience their work. Work included ‘Tha Daance Maast’ by SwoompTheeng, ‘Internal Garden’ by Justin Wiggan and Sounds of Us Sensory Room Concerts.

We also launched our very own giant sensory sculpture created by Artist Zoe Robertson, in collaboration with Sense art-maker Paul. The work reflects collaboration between the people Sense supports and the wider community who access Sense Touchbase Pears.   

A man is holding a speaker to his face.

‘My language is making and touching things with my hands’- Zoe, speaking about what inclusive practice means to her

We also showcased the Sense Arts performance programme featuring inclusive & disability dance with InterACTION, Sensory Storytelling by Miss Jacqui – a spoken word artist and songwriter, and performance by Zara Jayne – co-founder of The Bareface Collective – performing an extract from her show Not Disabled Enough.

An audience are watching a performance on the stage where twp women and a man stand in the performance space.

Arts consultant Ruth Richardson, who worked with us on the strategy, shared her experience and journey with the group.

“What an unbelievably brilliant team, offer and vision. And the best thing? This is just the beginning” – Ruth Richardson, Arts Consultant   

We had amazing feedback from the audiences and we are thrilled with how the event went.

“It is easy to make assumptions about what works for different audiences. We need to reflect on what is really needed and this space allows for that. We are really lucky to have this space in Birmingham”

“It is important to find the link between social care and art, it means that everyone has the opportunity to be creative.

“It is a unique space, very effective at providing links between similar organizations”.

If you want to find out more about the strategy click here and watch this space for more updates from the Sense Arts team about our plans and developments. An audio described version of the plan will be completed by July 2019.

Huge thanks and gratitude to Arts Council England  & Ruth Richardson for their support and guidance.

Author: Kara Jarrold

Kara is Head of Arts & Wellbeing at Sense. She leads on arts projects that find ways to empower people to find their cultural voice, working collaboratively and experimentally with artists and participants to improve access to art through the senses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.