Sense Arts

Sense Arts pioneers the development and delivery of arts activities, workshops and events specially tailored towards individuals with complex disabilities, including sensory impairments. This work is called ‘sensory arts practice’.

We must all do our part in slowing the spread of COVID-19, so we are taking the next step to help protect our community. Effective from the 17 March 2020, we will be suspending all arts sessions until further notice.

Our approach is based on the most up to date guidance from the Government and we will be doing as much as possible to resume sessions as quickly as possible, when we feel it is safe to do so. Thanks for your patience.

Our sensory arts practice at Sense gives everyone, no matter how complex their disabilities, the opportunity to be creative and express themselves.

Working with leading organisations, such as the Arts Council England, The National Theatre, Wayne McGregor and Mac Birmingham – as well as a range of highly talented and diverse artists – we offer a series of high quality arts events that range from art exhibitions and ambitious dance projects, to workshops, creative making sessions and more. All of our activities are especially tailored to the interests, wishes and needs of the people who take part.

Our current focus is ensuring that our new centre, Touchbase Pears in Birmingham is the UK’s leading centre and a world leader for the development of sensory arts practice and arts opportunities for people with complex disabilities.

A man making pottery
A smiling woman holding an embroidered flower in her hand

Our work

How do you make art if you don't know what art is?

‘Sensibility’ is a radical arts partnership between Sense Arts and Mac Birmingham, questioning how people with complex disabilities can engage and co-produce as both participants and audiences of high quality arts experiences.  It is an Arts Council England funded project, co-directed by Graeae Theatre & Steph Singer from Bittersuite.

The project will provide progressive and experimental art opportunities that nurture and inspire the creative potential of individuals with sensory impairments and the wider artistic community. The project will work with sixty participants across Birmingham and will conclude with a Sensibility Festival hosted at TouchBase Pears and Mac Birmingham.   This will present work which invites audiences into an experiential world dedicated to exploring, listening to and savouring the details of the bodily experience.

Raising standards through co-production with professional artists

Dance and movement gives people the opportunity to express meaning physically, without the need for spoken language. It also has a positive impact on interpersonal skills such as trust, confidence and communication.

We have some fantastic partners who are pushing their practice into new sensory and inclusive worlds. Since September 2015, Sense has been collaborating with the Birmingham Hippodrome and the inclusive dance company InterAction to run inclusive and sensory dance workshops that explore connection and communication through contemporary dance.

Alex is a Sense participant who has attended these sessions for three years and has really developed as a result of his attendance. 

We both thought the day (final performance) was wonderful, seeing Alex move and enjoy himself amongst his peer group. It brought both of us to tears of joy, seeing Alex dance and interact with dancers and to remember his movements, a thing we thought we would never see in our lifetime!

Alex's parents

We also work closely with Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA), providing arts mentoring and training for RBSA artists and new opportunities in visual arts for individuals with sensory impairments.

Over the course of the project, Sense trained four RBSA workshop leaders, who delivered workshops in clay, sculpture, weaving and screen printing.

One of the project participants, Paul Weaver, designed a tote bag with professional artist Karoline Rerrie, which is now sold as the official bag for TouchBase Pears!

Making Sense of Dance

men and women dancing
A man and woman dancing, holding hands and stretching away from each other

A collaboration between Sense and Studio Wayne McGregor, presenting a creative resource for dance and movement.

We started working with Studio Wayne McGregor with staff and individuals at Sense TouchBase South East in Barnet, London. The project was a huge success in terms of developing creative outcomes for the company and Sense participants.  As a result of this partnership, Sense and Studio Wayne McGregor have collaborated on ‘Making sense of dance’, a booklet and video resource to support more people to enjoy and engage in dance.

This resource is intended to support anyone who wants to lead or take part in a movement session. It will help you generate new ideas and equip you with the initial skills to run one-to-one or group movement sessions.

It is intended to help support staff and participants interested in developing creative movement-based and provides tips and ideas for creative activities, which can be adapted and developed to suit people of all abilities.

Making Sense of Music

A man and two women support two young people to make sounds using a bucket
A girl in a studio space making bubbles over a large plastic container under blue light

Music is a Vibration (MIAV) was a collaboration between Sense, artists Justin Wiggan and Tom Peel and a group of young people with complex disabilities and their support staff. The project ran from October 2017 to October 2018 at the TouchBase Pears centre in Birmingham.

The Music Is A Vibration toolkit offers a range of unique activities to help you discover more about sound and the senses. It is aimed at anyone who wants to make their music activities more inclusive, especially for people with complex disabilities. We hope that care staff, teachers, youth leaders, families, friends and young people will find this resource useful and inspiring.

Get in touch

Get in touch to find out more about arts, sport and wellbeing.

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