Sense Arts receives landmark Arts Council funding as a new National Portfolio Organisation

We are delighted that Sense Arts has received National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status from the Arts Council. A first for Sense Arts and a first for social care!

Sense has secured £750,000 investment over the next three years to deliver our pioneering arts and culture programme. This will allow us to create more opportunities for people with complex disabilities to experience high quality arts and cultural activities.

Sense works with some of the most under-represented and least understood groups in society who do not have ready access to culture. We’re one of only a handful of organisations working in-depth in this way.

Our audience development work focusses on bringing disabled and non-disabled people and communities together through the arts, to learn and create alongside each other at events, workshops, and online groups.

The investment will enable us to:

  • Reach 900 disabled people through visual arts, music and dance workshops.
  • Engage with 9,000 local people across events showcasing the incredible work created.
  • Continue working in Birmingham as well as in new regions of the UK – including Loughborough, Warrington, Barnet, Dover and Rotherham.
  • Strengthen disabled leadership in the arts through a commitment to recruiting disabled artists and platforming their work on a national level.
  • Help raise awareness of the potential for social care as a place of everyday creativity and culture.

We will work with three disabled artistic directors and 16 freelance artists across the different artforms to co-produce new creative offers for the people Sense supports, alongside the wider disabled and non-disabled communities in each location.

The programme will include creative workshops led by artists, sharing events such as performances and exhibitions, social events and get-togethers as well as celebrating the magical moments of everyday creativity across our platforms.

The programme will help find new ways for the arts and social care sectors to learn from each other through hosting events, visits and talks.

Tanya Raabe-Webber, our new artistic director of visual arts, says of the new investment:

“I’m leading the pioneering disability lead visual arts programme at Sense, funded by Arts Council England. Our ambition is to support disabled creatives in their wider practice and to see their artwork recognised by the wider world.”

Lisa Simpson, artistic director of dance says:

A young woman sitting in a wheelchair with her arms raised

“Working with Sense has been magical. My future ambition in this new role is to create a programme that’s accessible for all types of disabilities, including complex needs. I want it to be a sustainable model for other art forms to use. Many people with complex disabilities have not yet been given the opportunity to realise their creative potential.”

Read more about Lisa’s approach to choreography.

Richard Kramer, chief executive of Sense says:

“We want to introduce more opportunities for people to express themselves creatively and pioneer new inclusive art practice with positive outcomes.”

The three-year programme will be delivered by the Sense Arts team, led by Sense’s head of arts, Stephanie Tyrrell.