Sense Arts Connect manifesto

The manifesto is intended to provide a broad set of statements to support disabled people to tackle loneliness and isolation during this time and beyond.

What this manifesto is about

The manifesto is a clear demonstration of the Sense approach and shows how we support people to make connections and tackle loneliness and isolation. Through our partnership with disabled artist Tanya Raabe-Webber we have the opportunity to be authentic and share a unique perspective. Connecting to people with art and creativity adds joy, fun and richness to the lives of the people we support. This is clearly evident from the faces represented in the manifesto and is something to celebrate.

Jonathan Monk, director of operations 

The manifesto is a statement. It is a way for Sense Arts to share our collective experience. It has a dual purpose, to act as a place of inspiration for artists and as a meaningful tool for people to absorb, interpret, and reflect on in times of isolation. Through sketches and painting Tanya has created a reflection, rooted in her own experiences of who we are and where we are. It is a powerful reminder that we are not alone.

Stephanie Tyrrell, head of arts

Who is it for?

This manifesto seeks to draw from the lives, interests, likes, strengths and innovations people with complex disabilities, their peers and families, lead on as the experts of their own lives and identities. 

What are our key aims?

  • Be bold, be curious.
  • Seek new experiences.
  • Find joy in the challenge.
  • Connect and be connected.

A message from the artist, Tanya Raabe-Webber

I was asked by Sense Arts to create a manifesto for Sense Connect – a programme for disabled people to form social connections with peers and non-disabled people during this time.

Tanya Raabe-Webber

My name is Tanya Raabe-Webber, a disabled artist. At an early age, I discovered I was good at drawing and painting and this gave me a voice to tell the stories of my life as a disabled person living in a disabling world. I have made a very successful career out of being an artist as a painter of people, including painting portraits of many well known Disabled People who have pioneered significant changes in our society. 

Tanya, a woman with short hair and a blue jumper and glasses standing in a colourful artist studio with paintings and easels all around.

One of these portraits was of Neil Baldwin, a man with learning disabilities whom the BBC made a film about called Marvellous. These portraits celebrate their lives and have been exhibited in many of our public galleries including the Tate and the National Portrait Gallery in London. 

I have also spent a lot of my career supporting and nurturing other artists to reach their potential on their own terms. In 2015 I set up ArtStudio01, an inclusive artist collective in an artist’s studio complex in an old supermarket building in Shrewsbury. 

ArtStudio01 supports seven learning disabled artists with complex disabilities to make their work and to develop their professional practice through exhibiting their work nationally and internationally.

Portraits of family and friends

A Joyful Challenge, Self-portrait, Medium: Acrylics
A Celebration Moment, Medium: Acrylics
A Celebration Moment,  Medium: Acrylics
An Unexpected Journey, Medium: Acrylics
​​The Seeker of Information, Medium: Acrylics
The Maker, Medium: Acrylics
Postcard: Sharing memories, Medium: Acrylic

Sense Connect was supported by Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

This content was last reviewed in April 2022. We’ll review it again next year.