How pioneering work is helping people with disabilities access art

As our Making Together exhibition gets underway, we caught up with the team at our project partner, national disability charity Sense.

Sense supports people with complex disabilities, including those who are deafblind, to be understood, connected and valued. Their Chief Executive Richard Kramer wants art to be an important part of everybody’s lives.

He joined Sense after working for Turning Point, a social enterprise providing health and social care services, and is passionate about the rights of disabled people and improving access to all art forms.

Richard sees Making Together as a hugely significant exhibition not only for the region, but also in supporting the national drive towards more inclusive arts.

Images from the Making Together exhibition at the RBSA Gallery in Birmingham, a multi-sensory exhibition featuring work by disabled people. Picture credit Annette Pugh

He told ART BLOG: Many individuals have never been offered the chance to exhibit their art or work with professional artists.

‘This exhibition demonstrates our commitment to working alongside people with complex disabilities, unlocking their creativity and moving towards new self-expression through working alongside professional artists. It also celebrates the positive impact of arts by removing the barriers to accessing art and acts as a driver for social change by influencing arts sectors.

‘We make inclusive art an important part of disabled people’s lives.’

Art produced at the Making Sense workshop for people with communication needs, held by the RBSA and Sense at TouchBase Pears in Selly Oak, Birmingham. Work will go on to appear in an art exhibition called Making Together.

The RBSA and Sense engaged in important research last year, helping to spread new knowledge about how to reach marginalised groups and encourage arts engagement.

The charity’s pioneering community hub, TouchBase Pears in Selly Oak, Birmingham, will also feature the Making Together exhibition later in the Spring, bringing people together to appreciate multi-sensory art in a welcoming environment.

Richard added: ‘We want to introduce more opportunities for people with complex disabilities to express themselves creatively and pioneer new inclusive art practice with positive outcomes.

‘We want disabled people’s achievements to be more visible and celebrated in their local communities. We believe the arts have a particular importance for disabled people who communicate differently; they offer all of us the opportunity to focus on how a person uses their senses and non-verbal communication to experience and connect to the world.’

Images from the Making Together exhibition at the RBSA Gallery in Birmingham, a multi-sensory exhibition featuring work by disabled people. Picture credit Annette Pugh

Richard is determined to support greater access to the arts, something he believes can be lacking.

‘An individual’s passion and enthusiasm for art is sometimes masked by a lack of accessible arts and cultural experiences, a lack of accessible arts training and a lack of professional development opportunities for mainstream art sectors.

‘This project helps to extend the number of collaborative partnerships and provide professional artists with the skills to offer more opportunities in Birmingham.’

Making Together opened at the RBSA Gallery on 27 February and runs until 9 March before moving to TouchBase Pears.

The exhibition, in collaboration with national disability charity Sense, showcases work created in a series of workshops, co-produced by RBSA artists and Sense participants as part of a project called Making Sense. The resulting art appeals to touch, movement, smell, sight and sound.

The RBSA will be offering free guided tours and multi-sensory tours during the show including a BSL tour on 27 February, 1-3pm. Contact Natalie at the RBSA on 0121 236 4353 to book a place.

  1. Accessibility videos can be viewed at YouTube

  2. Photo credits: Annette Pugh and Karoline Rerrie

This project / exhibition is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and a donation by the Grimmitt Trust.

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#artanddisability #artsforeveryone #Outreach #Sensecharity

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