Outside In Pathways was established in 2008 and offers a unique opportunity for people with learning disabilities (PWLD) to explore their cultural life whilst addressing the enormous barriers and problems that they face in becoming involved with the arts. Outside In works across all areas of the arts – music, photography, painting, collage, drama, dance and
movement – and gives participants the opportunity to explore different media, develop new skills and also to explore new and previously unvoiced aspirations to lead a life that is enriched by the arts.
HOW WE STARTED
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea originally funded two projects taking people with learning disabilities to the museums at South Kensington in London. One project was for people with high support needs and the other was for families with children who had a learning disability. These were small-scale projects with limited funding but they were very much appreciated by the participants. Based on the success of this work, Deborah Evans-Stickland felt inspired to extend the idea into something more ongoing and ambitious, offering art activities in the museums. She approached Barry Ginley, the Disability Access Officer at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London and he agreed to host the project.
THE NEED FOR CHANGE
Many people with learning disabilities face real barriers to becoming involved with mainstream culture and art.
The Outside In project was set up to lower some of these barriers by creating opportunities for people to go to museums and galleries and take advantage of the facilities such places offer.
The Outside In project actively invites people with learning disabilities to come to museums and galleries and provides high-quality teaching in the arts including photography, filming, drawing and collage making. The project offers a unique chance to enjoy and learn about the arts in a socially inclusive and relaxed environment.
THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL INCLUSION
We were dissatisfied with the restrictions imposed on the lives of people with disability and autism which appeared to come from NHS Primary Care Trust and social services and their provision for people. We evolved a way of working in order to create a situation which is as participant-led as it can be, which focuses on the influence of these surroundings and the profound effect of inclusion, that these surroundings have on participants. Many artists agree that civilization is a group of profoundly social ideas which reside in the imagination. Artefacts, performances, architecture, all the arts, in fact, embody profound social ideas. A further question arises ‘to whom does civilisation belong?’ Journeys are equally beneficial to facilitators as the journeys are to the participants.
‘Culture is embedded in social and individual identity and exclusion from culture is ubiquitous for this target group who are also living in poor economic circumstances. Therefore a project which takes and accompanies such stigmatised and impoverished groups to a place of the highest culture to make it meaningful to them is exceptional.’
Dr Valerie Sinason, Consultant Psychotherapist, Psychoanalyst (2005)
JODI AWARD WINNERS 2008
The scheme has seen a group of people with learning disabilities produce films at the V&A in London using digital technology. The group used digital cameras and editing equipment to produce a DVD of their thoughts and reactions to the museum.
Judge Ross Parry lauded the project as a creative way of using digital media as a “vital catalyst” that demonstrated the social impact of museums and “the way technology could be used as a context for another kind of interaction and event.”
“I think it’s critically important to get this recognition. We have to think about civilization belonging to everybody and we can’t afford to even think about excluding people on the grounds of disability.”
Deborah Evans Stickland after receiving the Jodi Award