Research into learning disability art studios in the UK

From May 2018 until June 2019 I was the Producer on disabled artist Tanya Raabe-Webber’s Arts Council England funded research and development project. We traveled around the UK to learning disability arts studios and other organisations supporting disabled artists looking into best practice. These were: Barrington Farm in Norfolk, ActionSpace in London, Intoart in London, Project Art Works in Hastings, Garvald in Edinburgh, Project Ability in Glasgow and the Arthouse Wakefield. We also traveled to Finland to visit the Kaarisilta Art Studios and ITE in Helsinki. The aim was to explore learning disability arts practice and studio models, to learn about sustainable structures and funding, and to expand Tanya’s skills and knowledge in supporting ArtStudio01 - a studio supporting artists with and without learning disabilities in Shrewsbury that Tanya set up in 2014. You can read about the visits in a series of blog posts that we did for Disability Arts Online.

On Friday 12 April we held a Sharing Day at ArtStudio01’s base at Participate in Shrewbsury. Alongside the launch of an exhibition of recent work from ArtStudio01 artists, there was time for Tanya to explain to invited guests about the research and about Cameron Morgan’s three-day residency - a first for ArtStudio01. Key information that Tanya shared from the visits included:

  • That every studio works supportively with the individual, whether that be 1-2-1 or in group settings

  • The importance of archiving work and documenting it professionally

  • Being able to showcase artwork outside of the studio in different settings and the importance of this for the wellbeing of artists

  • The issues around payments to artists on benefits if work sells, or if they run workshops – and that this needs to be tackled at Government level

Here are a few images from our visits, and more can be found on the blogs link above.