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 launch 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.

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

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Celebrating access to the arts with a new sensory festival

Black and white photograph of manhole cover on pavement with blurred edges to show Marcus' point of view
A photograph exhibited by Marcus Inniss at Moorfields Eye Hospital

Access to the arts is so important, but can often be misunderstood as simply a ‘nice thing to do’ rather than as a fundamental right. Creativity gives us the tools to make sense of the world and articulate our thoughts and feelings, and we’re yet to find ways of making this available to all.

At Sense we’re interested in ways to empower people to find their cultural voice, and we’re doing this through working collaboratively and experimentally with artists and participants to interrogate access to art through the senses.

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'A wonderful adventure' – the Forest of Dreams goes on display in Cambridge

The leaders of the project, Jenny and Marion
Marion and Jenny leading the way

As the final conclusion to an amazing England and Wales-wide epic project of making dreams more tangible, Kara Jarrold, Sense Arts and Wellbeing Manager, went to show off the brilliant Forest of Dreams to an audience filled with textiles artists and professionals. Here’s her account of how impressed they all were with the work the Sense deafblind artists created.


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CRsea exploration of creativity!

Sense’s Cambridge Resource Centre is an education and day service based on the outskirts of Cambridge, in the village of Knapwell,  reachable through an avenue of mature trees surrounded by farm land. Such beautiful settings have helped inspire the latest round of Creativity@Work projects.

Arts and Wellbeing aficionado at the Centre, Jess Brook, takes us through some of the recent developments in this lovely part of the world. This first installment takes us from snow-filled fields to medieval armoury.

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The ‘Choo Choo Quack Quack’ blog post

Sitting at a train station taking recordings
One of our recordings included going on a train. Everybody really enjoyed it and we recorded some good sounds, fast trains, the train driver speaking and the aeroplanes going over head whilst we waited at the station

For the Creativity@Work project, staff and students at Sense@Keech have been getting very musical of late. They’ve recently teamed up with Matt Lewis and a new music therapist Alex to widen the types of projects they do and what fun they had! Leyanne from the service, with help from Asif, one of the centre’s students, tells us about what they got up to:

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Curious Ceramics: new sensory bags launching at the V&A

bags containing props such as clogs, fan, building blocks
What will you find in the sensory bags?

What do ceramics feel like? What are they made of? What smells would we associate with the ceramic trade? How is a 5 foot tower of china constructed?

Come along to the V&A’s launch of their new sensory bags, providing a multi-sensory insight into the ceramics collection on display at the world-famous museum of all things designed and crafted. The Museum teamed up with Sense and multi-sensory artist Abigail Hirsch to create their first ever resource for children with multi-sensory impairments.

The backpack is full of sensory activities that can be enjoyed by all families,

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Sensory Photography: the final exhibition!

A photograph of someone almost out of shot, interesting composition
‘There’s Someone’

Over the last few months, Sense has been working on a very exciting project with PhotoVoice, the charity specialising in making photography accessible and whose vision is for a world in which no one is denied the opportunity to speak out and be heard. The workshops delivered by PhotoVoice explored how to make photography accessible for people with sensory impairments and culminated in a public exhibition for Deafblind Awareness Week 2015.

John Kirkham, the assistant day services manager at Sense’s TouchBase South East centre in Barnet, explains why the project was so valuable and enjoyable and what everyone got out of trying photography in a new way.

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What's happening in the Arts & Wellbeing team?

Photo of Material Memories makers at exhibition of quilt
Celebrating the end of a Sense quilting project

Exciting times are afoot in the Arts and Wellbeing camp!

I’ve been in the post as the new Head of Arts and Wellbeing for two months now and it’s high time I updated our wonderful Arts Blog with news about what we’re up to . With three big events launching this week in time for Deafblind Awareness Week 2015, here is a word about some of the work we do and why it’s important.

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Creativity@Work – Market Deeping’s new Garden Project!

Spades resting in a wheelbarrow ready for the next stageAt Sense, we are some way through our Creativity@Work scheme which is all about supporting our staff to use their creative skills in the workplace – bringing new perspectives to the work that they do and engaging those we support. More updates showcasing this fabulous work will appear soon, but for now Mel Barr tells us a little about the project she’s been working collaboratively on with others and shares some sunny photos of the work in progress at Manor Court:

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Weaving with sound

We were very lucky to have guests at a recent Material Memory session who showed us some pretty cool things we could do with weaving. Emilie Giles from the Open University explains what we got up to:

For session 3 of Material Memory, myself and Janet van der Linden from the Open University ran a session with the group in weaving with eTextiles (yarns, threads, fibres and fabrics which can conduct electricity) and other interesting materials. Using a combination of these, a woven swatch can be created that can trigger sound on a computer, just by touching it.

I had popped in to see the group the week before to demonstrate something which I had made, a woven swatch containing an array of conductive and non-condcutive materials. Everyone took turns to have a go with it, stroking, poking and squeezing it to explore how their actions could change the sound produced, using a circuit board called Arduino and an application called Super-Collider.

We began the workshop by exploring conductive materials: some of these being very metal-like, smelling metallic and feeling rough, whilst others feeling soft like regular thread.


The group were very intrigued as to how a soft object such as this could trigger music and spent some time feeling my example piece, and the different textures within it.

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