MAKING THE CASE: THE CULTURAL ENRICHMENT PROGRAMME
Venture Arts is a visual arts charity working with learning disabled people to create new contemporary artÂ from ourÂ supported studios in Manchester. Our vision is a world in which learning disabled people are empowered, celebrated, included and valued in the arts, culture and society. We intend to shape a new cultural landscape where learning disabled people reach their potential as artists, curators, critics, audiences, participants and advocates. We have an asset-based approach to our work and our people. We celebrate individual strengths and we build initiatives, networks, partnerships and connections that provide opportunities in society previously denied to learning disabled people.
HOW IT WORKS
THE IMPETUS FOR CULTURAL ENRICHMENT
5 STEPS FOR BEST PRACTICE
53 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 3
INTRO Since 2014, Venture Arts has made it possible for over 30 learning disabled people to experience immersive, inspiring placements at some of Manchester’s bestknown cultural heritage venues.
We’ve supported this underrepresented group to explore their heritage and take ownership of it. We’ve seen learning disabled people taking centre stage in Manchester’s heritage organisations, sharing their experiences with large audiences, enriching the experience of staff and visitors, and independently taking on long-term volunteering roles. We’ve also seen them influence organisations to raise the bar for learning disabled visitors, participants, volunteers and workers. 4
BACKGROUND TO THE PROGRAMME
Through the Cultural Enrichment Programme we wanted to examine how learning disabled people can access heritage, be absorbed by it, learn about it, relay their learning to others and take ownership of our shared heritage. After piloting the project in 2014-15 with a Big Lottery Awards for All grant, Heritage Lottery Fund generously supported us for two years to develop and extend the programme. During 2016-18, we delivered 12 placements, with 24 participants, and 5 organisations.
We know that when it comes to participation in culture and heritage, learning disabled people are missing out, invariably feeling that such activities and spaces arenâ€™t for them.
The HLF grant enabled us to make several important changes to the programme, most significantly increasing placements from 12 weeks to 16. As well as giving people longer in which to engage with heritage, this allowed for more sustained and productive partnerships with the host venues, leading to more positive change in their organisational culture.
THE PLACEMENTS, 2016-18 MANCHESTER MUSEUM - Poppy and Bilal - Luca and Deborah - Sebastian and Emma THE PEOPLEâ€™S HISTORY MUSEUM - Kiyah and Josh - George and Joe S - Sebastian and Chelsea
WHITWORTH ART GALLERY - Amy and Joe M - Darren and Robert ROYAL EXCHANGE THEATRE - Dominic and Terry - Jess and Joe M - Sally and Ben HOME - Liam and David 6
HOW IT WORKS 7
Each pair attends their host venue weekly for 16 weeks. They are supported by our Cultural Engagement Officer Rhiannon Davies, a qualified nurse and support worker with a passion for art and heritage. Using a person-centred approach, activities are pre-planned with each persons’ interests and abilities in mind, providing frequent opportunities for feedback and reflection. Participants become familiar with the venue, staff, and volunteer roles, gaining an insight into how the organisation is run, its collections, exhibits or performances, and its history. They explore departments like front of house, the shop, gallery spaces, archives, conservation areas, costume and tech departments. They volunteer in various public facing roles, and go behind the scenes in specialist departments such as costume, collections and conservation. Each week they recap on their learning and record their activities in a reflective log.
“Today we went over the first aid box and also I practiced restocking, it was good to learn where the stockroom is. I also learned to use the till and went through the steps. I also did some pricing and putting items into boxes. I felt fulfilled doing well at the till” – Liam
THE TOUR Around halfway through the placements, people begin preparing a tour centred on an area of personal interest, such as particular museum objects, an exhibition or production, or the history of the building itself. They’ll present this on three occasions to audiences including friends, family, colleagues and invited groups in the final weeks of their placement. Since 2016 we’ve welcomed members of the public onto the tours too, helping to promote a positive view of learning disabled people as insightful, engaging cultural contributors. Participants work with the Cultural Engagement Officer to plan their tour, deciding what information and activities to include to ignite their audiences’ interest. Over the remaining weeks they spend some of their placement undertaking research in the venue and online, rehearsing their tour, selecting guests, and designing and circulating invitations.
“I felt a bit nervous before the tour, but I felt brilliant after” - Kiyah
Participants receive a certificate of achievement on their final tour in recognition of the work they’ve put in. We also ask them to write a final reflection on their experience, and complete a project evaluation.
“Right the way through the process Joe has been supported with great understanding of his needs and strengths, it has stretched him and challenged him in a very supportive way, he absolutely loved going to work each week” - Parent
THE IMPETUS FOR CULTURAL ENRICHMENT 10
People with learning disabilities face discrimination, marginalisation and lack of opportunity throughout their lives. They have lower wellbeing, more anxiety and poorer mental health (ONS, 2014). Much of this is caused by others’ attitudes, which can be ‘a major barrier to education, leisure, transport, access to public services, social contact and accessibility outside the home’ (Scope, 2014). A third of learning disabled people between 18-35 spend less than an hour a day outside their home (Mencap, 2016). When it comes to employment, fewer than 6% of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in England are in paid work (HSCIC, 2015). However, 65% of learning disabled people want to work, and they can be of great benefit to a workplace, taking fewer sick days, staying in post longer, and improving staff morale (Mencap, 2015). We know that arts, museums and galleries create opportunities to enjoy new experiences, develop positive social networks, express oneself in a new and meaningful ways, broaden experience and 11
ignite imagination. Learning disabled people have an equal right to these formative and important experiences. They are however hugely underrepresented as cultural audiences and visitors, and face barriers to accessing and learning about history and heritage. Many museum and gallery staff admit they lack confidence in working with this group.
We’ve found that if learning disabled people are given volunteering opportunities and supported work placements, they can become productive and skilled volunteers in the sector, learning valuable skills, developing personal interest and independence. We want learning disabled people to be more visible and active in every aspect of our culture, to help break down preconceptions. The programme helps venues to welcome, include, and work alongside this group, and visitors to engage with them as helpful, friendly and knowledgeable members of staff. This adds richness and more diverse voices to our cultural landscape as a whole.
CREATIVE CASE FOR DIVERSITY “The Creative Case for Diversity is a way of exploring how organisations and artists can enrich the work they do by embracing a wide range of influences and practices. We believe that embracing the Creative Case helps organisations not only enrich their work, but also address other challenges and opportunities in audience development, public engagement, workforce and leadership.” – Arts Council England 12
Our programme stems from a firm belief that learning disabled people should feel that heritage belongs to them, and should be at home and at ease in heritage spaces. We also want to influence and change those spaces for the better, helping museums, galleries and heritage sites to interpret and explain history to diverse audiences, and for staff and visitors to feel comfortable with learning disabled workers and visitors alike. The Cultural Enrichment Programme is an excellent way for heritage venues to demonstrate their commitment to the creative case for diversity, equality and truly inclusive practice. 13
OUTCOMES We’ve seen a multitude of fantastic outcomes from the programme, for learning disabled participants, heritage organisation staff and visitors.
1. People have taken ownership of heritage: By getting to know their host organisation in-depth, people delve into collections,
“We’ve been doing about sewing a Suffolk Puff. I learnt to sew it, on my tour I will show how to make it” - Amy
exhibits and behind-the-scenes, truly experiencing the working culture of each venue. In preparation for their tours they focus on a particular feature, gaining knowledge of an area of history of their choice. Our participants aren’t passive visitors but proactive instigators of their own learning, taking ownership of it and developing interests that might well stay with them for life.
“I looked at a skirt and a corset, it was really fun, I liked the materials” – Joe 14
2. People have improved ‘soft skills’ Increased confidence and improved communication are two of the most frequently mentioned benefits that arise from Cultural Enrichment placements. Leading a tour can seem daunting at first – but ultimately our participants find it incredibly satisfying and rewarding, gaining valuable presentation skills and a boost to self-esteem. Commanding the attention of a room, sharing their expertise and gaining positive feedback gives people a powerful sense of achievement.
Some of our partner organisations offer ‘object handling’ training, allowing participants to interact with visitors by demonstrating artefacts and sharing facts. Taking on this ‘expert’ role is motivating and empowering. In the feedback we’ve gathered from parents and carers, the overwhelming majority observed increased confidence and/or selfesteem, with around half also seeing ‘improved social skills’. A recent focus group of 7 past Cultural Enrichment participants awarded top marks when asked how much the placement had boosted their confidence.
“I felt happy doing the tour, I felt confident because I practised a lot” “My son has thoroughly enjoyed coming to the museum… it has boosted his confidence and given him a sense of self-worth. The tour was amazing – delivered with passion and enthusiasm. He has shared so much with us as a family whilst on his placement” - Parent “It has really helped with developing his communication skills, his independence and his social skills, he has grown in maturity and confidence and he’s really enjoyed it!” – Parent
3. People have gained valuable work skills Through taking part in the day to day operation of the venue, participants learn valuable skills like timekeeping, teamwork, customer service, and health and safety – all of which can be transferred to other job roles. They also learn retail skills and site-specific tasks such as object handling, conservation and ushering.
Cultural enrichment placements provide a valuable experience to add to their CV and has led to several people gaining paid work elsewhere. People also build skills in literacy through completing their weekly diary, and developing their tour preparation – researching, creating invitations and additional resources. Tasks like till work, stocktaking in
the museum or gallery shop, and theatre ushering can also lead to better numeracy for some. In a recent focus group of 7 past programme participants, all said they had benefited from ‘presentation skills’ and ‘customer service skills’. Around half of parents/ carers in their feedback observed ‘higher work aspirations’. 18
“In the shop I love to use the till, I did the card machine really well” – Josh “I worked on the reception, greeting people, showing people where things are, clicking people in… my favourite part was getting people to donate” – Joe “As an usher I sort the tickets out and show the customers to their seat. My favourite was talking to the public and I liked working with the ushers too, they are fantastic” – Dominic
“I think this is 4. People have invaluable for Joe new employment as he goes into opportunities adulthood, to have Of the 24 people that have had such a positive completed a placement experience of since 2016: work, broadening - 9 have been offered his horizons and longer-term volunteering independence. I roles at partner venues, think it has given independent of a support worker. Roles include him the confidence demonstrating artefacts at to realise that Manchester Museum, and having a job is ushering at Royal Exchange something that Theatre and HOME Manchester. he could do, and has raised his - 9 have been employed as expectations” Venture Arts ‘artist mentors’, – Parent demonstrating their skills to “I’m very happy with the placement. I really want to be a vet nurse but I had poor confidence and poor communication skills. I have noticed that my confidence has improved a lot since my work placement. I now feel ready to do some work experience at a vet’s” – Sally
school pupils on our ‘Create to Educate’ projects.
- 4 have found other paid roles in catering and admin. - 2 are completing internships. Our partner organisations have reported that they would feel better equipped to employ a learning disabled person as a result of the programme. Royal Exchange Theatre now has a strategy in place to diversify its workplace to include more disabled people.
5. People have more independence Transport can be a big barrier to employment and social activities for learning disabled people. We support participants to use public transport each week to travel to and
from their placement, helping to build their independence. Visiting a heritage venue each week also helps participants feel more at home in public spaces, meaning they are more ikely to attend such a venue unaccompanied.
“I’ve been back to HOME since my placement, to look at the Garden exhibition” - Liam 5 out of 7 focus group members reported feeling happier travelling independently since the placement. In parent and carer feedback, around half mention greater ease with using public transport, and similar numbers cite increased independence.
6. People have volunteered their time Throughout this project, learning disabled people have volunteered 1,152 hours of their time, during which they’ve assisted in the running of an organisation, developed new skills and interests, received valuable work experience, and made new friends. They’ve also been made to feel proud and valued for their contribution to Manchester’s culture. We know it works: 5 people have now been offered permanent volunteering positions at their host venue, with a further 4 being invited to usher at HOME Manchester’s relaxed performance programme. 21
“Seeing the participants shine from their learning, the interactions and conversations we strike up during lunch… The programme creates enrichment for [all museum staff], understanding how a learning disabled person prefers to learn, develop and be confident working in our venue as a member of our team” – Karen Brackenbridge, Manchester Museum “I have seen the effect on the galleries of having Deborah’s friendly face as the first thing you see when you walk in, she generates and spreads warmth wherever she goes” - Louise Thomas, Manchester Museum
7. Heritage has been enriched by learning disability Cultural Enrichment is about more than just improving learning disabled people’s experiences of heritage. We’ve seen just how much Manchester’s cultural spaces have been enriched by the inclusion of learning disabled people too.
Organisations have invested staff time in learning disabled volunteers and have seen the positive effect they have on staff members and visitors alike. 4 of our 5 partners have chosen to offer long-term volunteer placements to our programme participants, illustrating how much they’ve valued the experience. 22
8. Heritage organisations have improved their offer Staff gain valuable handson experience of learning disability, and skills in working, communicating and explaining history to a range of learning disabled people. Consequently, many change and improve their own working practices.
“It has allowed me to put in place training and practice and schemes of work that enable the learner to develop, take ownership and enjoy that sense of self, when undertaking activity in the venue or with staff individually” – Karen Brackenbridge, Manchester Museum Some of our partner organisations have developed strategies to improve their offer to learning disabled audiences, participants and volunteers. For example, Royal Exchange Theatre used their experience to develop and improve their ‘relaxed performance’ programme, 23
in consultation with Cultural Enrichment participants. HOME Manchester has gone above and beyond in making their offer inclusive to learning disabled people. They’ve recently secured funding to deliver their own, media-focused version of the Cultural Enrichment
Programme in partnership with Venture Arts. They’ve also showcased the talents of a former Cultural Enrichment participant, and are working on an exciting programme of events for learning disabled young people. See our HOME Case Study on page 48 for more.
9. Heritage visitors have interacted with learning disabled volunteers
“Me and David took turns using the iPad to ask people if they wanted to sign up for a one-off survey about their experience at HOME. It was quite hard but we managed to get quite a few people to sign up and it was enjoyable too” – Liam “I worked on the reception, greeting people, showing people where things are, clicking people in… my favourite part was getting people to donate” – Joe
There will be many visitors to heritage and culture who have had little or no interaction with learning disabled people before. Research by Scope (2014) shows that 67% of the British public feel uncomfortable talking to disabled people, and 36% think of this group as ‘less productive than everyone else’ (Scope, 2014). Being assisted by a learning disabled volunteer can have a powerful effect in removing preconceptions, showing that these are helpful, capable people with knowledge, skills and interests. Programme participants are given many opportunities to interact with members of the public on during their placements.
“Darren was really friendly and engaging in the shop, he dealt with customers confidently and with a big smile” – Donna Kempson, Whitworth Art Gallery 24
5 STEPS FOR BEST PRACTICE To support learning disabled people to engage in heritage:
Use inclusive language. Avoid jargon and use language which allows everyone to understand what is being put across.
Be person centred. Ensure 2 that people are directing their own experience. Focusing on the participantâ€™s interests, strengths and needs are key to a successful placement.
3 Use interactive learning. Allow for the learner to be proactive in their learning process, ensure they feel free to ask questions and consult them regularly about their experience too. Keep visits/learning short and 4 in-depth. Mencapâ€™s Guidance for Heritage Sites Welcoming Visitors with a Learning Disability shows that paying short visits and over a longer period of time is the most effective way for learning. Directing the learning to focus on one specific area of the heritage site per visit also works well.
5 Make no assumptions. Focus on the personâ€™s ability, not their limitations. Throughout the history of the Cultural Enrichment Programme, learning disabled people have brought new and refreshing perspectives to engaging with collections and learning. 26
Makaton sign language has been designed to assist people who find verbal communication difficult. In 2016 Venture Arts took part in a free Makaton training session provided by Manchester International Festival. Venture Arts staff and participants completed a basic course of Makaton signs and symbols to support day-to-day communication, plus some arts and heritagespecific language.
CASE STUDIES Makaton at Manchester Museum and Whitworth Art Gallery
Other cultural organisations across the city took part in their own Makaton training with MIF, many of them designating a member of staff to be their â€˜Makaton Championâ€™. As a result of this fantastic initiative, four of our Cultural Enrichment participants decided to incorporate Makaton into their tour. Bilal, 29
Poppy, Amy and Joe had a little Makaton experience from school and went on to learn more throughout their placements. Amy and Joe included Makaton elements in their textiles-based tour at Whitworth, with Poppy and Bilal at Manchester Museum delivering a fully Makaton-assisted tour on their chosen topics of Ancient Egypt and archery.
“I learnt about the mummies information for my tour and I’ve met lots of people and I feel more confident with Makaton for my tour … I like speaking to the people visiting and using the signs” – Poppy
At Whitworth we worked with their Makaton Champion and together researched the appropriate signs to accompany Amy and Joe’s chosen textile pieces. Many of the signs were new to both us and the Whitworth, and together we enjoyed the challenge of learning new Makaton words and broadening our knowledge. This was a great opportunity for shared learning, as Amy and Joe were able to pass on their own knowledge of other Makaton symbols whilst also learning more about the art being described. The impact of Makaton in this context can be powerful as it helps make the collection more accessible to people with additional communication needs. The Venture Arts participants and staff who attended the tours, having previously completed a Makaton course themselves, were able to interpret the signs and learn additional ones. The signs also proved a valuable memory prompt for the tour guides, and more effective than written language in helping remember facts to relay on their tour. 30
“It has given Amy the confidence to speak in front of people she doesn’t know” – Parent “It has been excellent in every way. Joe has got so much out of the experience and has grown in confidence… to be able to lead a tour with Amy was such an achievement. Even though he was a bit overwhelmed he still manged to talk to an audience” – Parent “It was really good doing the signs, I still remember them” – Poppy, 2 years on from her placement
Deborah, Manchester Museum Deborah took part in a Manchester Museum placement where she sampled roles in the shop, front of house and galleries. She researched and presented a comprehensive tour of her favourite museum objects, across the Earth Sciences, Ancient Egypt and Vivarium departments. She elaborated on items such as Egyptian â€˜Shabtisâ€™ (afterlife helpers to accompany a 33
mummy in the tomb), and a live red-eyed leaf frog. In the Conservation department Deborah undertook training into how artefacts are repaired and conserved, how to display and share them with the public. Together with her placement partner Luca she cleaned, repair and finished a damaged Victorian cast using professional techniques.
She also gained an insight into the crucial role of ‘object handling’ volunteers, and blossomed in this particular role. At the museum’s object handing tables, visitors can hold or touch museum objects, guided by volunteers who also provide information. Here Deborah was able to share her knowledge of specific artefacts with the public, which was an excellent fit for her gregarious personality. As part of her tour she researched and presented facts on a 60-million-yearold pine cone fossil, which she encouraged all her tour groups to hold and enjoy. 34
“Deborah researched her tour by meeting and interviewing specialist members of staff and used this material to create a really interesting and individual tour. She delivered fascinating facts with total confidence and demonstrated her ability to be a hugely likeable and passionate museum tour guide who thrives in front of an audience. In particular, the interactive section at the handling table where Deborah supervised visitors touching a 60-millionyear-old fossil worked brilliantly” – Louise Thomas, Manchester Musuem 35
“ I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Deborah in the galleries as she has such a positive and happy outlook which is really infectious. She is also a natural when interacting with visitors and showed great interpersonal skills with the public and staff alike” – Louise Thomas, Manchester Museum
As a result of her excellent object handling skills, Deborah has gone on to become a regular volunteer at Manchester Museum on their ‘Living Worlds’ table, enabling her to interact with visitors on a weekly basis and inspire them to find out more about the collection.
“Working with the badger and rabbit is my favourite. I talk to people about the badger and I tell them what they eat. I like talking to the people that come here.” - Deborah 36
Peopleâ€™s History Museum
The Peopleâ€™s History Museum has given programme participants a chance to learn about British social history, explore the archives and get immersed in topics that ignite their interest. For
their end of project tours, our people have chosen to research areas such as the Suffragette movement, the two world wars, political badges and banners, and satirical comics.
George decided to focus on the Suffragette movement for his tour, and invited Manchester’s Women’s Institute to attend:
“We really enjoyed George’s tour- it was entertaining, witty and informative. The objects George showed the group were well chosen and his narrative was really engaging.” – Rachel Jones, Manchester Women’s Institute “It was lovely to see how the tour impacted on George’s confidence and I think it really enforced a ‘can do’ attitude and gave his selfesteem a real boost. I was amazed how much information he was able to retain and deliver during his tour which inspired me to find out more about the Suffragette movement” - Parent 38
Joe took an interest in the museums political badge collection, and carried out research into the symbols and messages carried by the badges. He also designed his own badge, and included a badge-making tutorial as part of his tour.
â€œI was taught how the badges were made and how they represent the past, the present day & protests. I like the badges because they look amazing and simple.â€? - Joe
Josh enjoyed learning about the museums photography exhibition Grafters, which documented workers throughout the industrial revolution to present day.
â€œI enjoyed showing people the factsâ€? Josh 40
Chelsea discovered early on that the Conservation Studio was her favourite part of the museum. On the first day ofthe placement she received an introduction to the museum’s textile collection, with one of the largest collections of historic trade union and political banners in the world. The museum carries out repairs and conservation of banners, which was an area Chelsea decided she wanted to investigate further.
For her tour, she researched the conservation studio’s work by interviewing the team and reading about the history of banners from the museum’s own information and online.
After learning about the symbolism used on banners, Chelsea went on to design her own iconic banner:
“In the conservation studio they fix the banners and freeze insects so they don’t eat the banners and leave dirt on them”
“My favourite banner is the ASLEEF banner. I like the colour what they’ve done, it’s bright and unique. They use the rainbow colours which are symbols of gay pride and clasped black and white hands to show racial unity” “The banners have many symbols. My favourite symbol is the bee. This has been the symbol for Manchester from the industrial times and still is today” - Chelsea
Royal Exchange Theatre: Sally and Ben
Sally and Ben share a passion for musical theatre, textiles and costumes; they loved exploring and learning about the various departments at the Royal Exchange, and they also had the chance to see some great productions. At the start of their placement Sally and Ben were taken on a tour of the venue, in which they learnt about the history of the theatre and the building’s original purpose as a Cotton Exchange. They explored the costume, makeup and wigs departments, as well as the theatre’s archives. A highlight was learning about the craft of making costumes:
“I particularly enjoyed the distressing room - where you literally destroy a beautiful dress for special effects using tools such as graters. I really liked the Midsummer Night’s Dream dress that had amazing detail” - Sally “The costume designing is unbelievable and amazing. I love to see the costume drawing for Guys and Dolls” – Ben
In the makeup and wigs department Ben enjoyed finding out about some of the gory special effects:
“We talked about how body parts fall apart and fake blood dripping down their lips… my favourite thing is talking about all different fake hands, fake nose, fake ears and definitely fake blood” – Ben They both had a go at designing and preparing their own makeup, following which they were transformed into their character of choice –Sally, inspired by her links to the history of the building chose Queen Victoria:
“I have learnt that Queen Victoria is a really big part of the history as she changed the name to ‘Royal’ Exchange. I made a mood board with pictures of a young Queen Victoria and a sample of dark brown hair and a bun and a pigtail braids and a flower crown and a tiara… I went to see Jo from Wigs and Makeup and I hand picked the right shade of lip gloss, eye shadow and blusher to make my face look similar to Queen Victoria…” They spent some time working on the information point, and ushering: 45
“Ben greeted everyone because he is more confident and I showed people to their seats as I am better with numbers. We enjoyed problem solving as many people came to the wrong place. Me and Ben helped them to find the right place.”
Sally also produced a ‘Cheese Grater’ badge to give to tour groups, inspired by her trip to the distressing room:
The tour was a roaring success, with tour groups being treated to a fascinating overview of many of the collection’s costumes plus an interactive ‘clothes distressing’ demonstration. The pair also created their own newspaper for visitors, detailing what they had discovered in the various theatre departments, including an account of designing their own make-up and preparing a wig that they had a chance to try on themselves.
“I felt that the tour went great and was much better than I thought it would be. I would really love to do more tours in future” – Sally “It went brilliant, excited and nervous at the same time” - Ben As a result of the placement, Sally has been offered a permanent volunteering post at the theatre, which she’ll begin in September 2018. 47
“I have noticed that my confidence has improved a lot and my communication skills are now great too since I have done my work placement… I am also happy that I made a great friend, I am now friends with Ben” – Sally
HOME In June 2017 HOME was the venue for our groundbreaking Creative Minds North conference, led by learning disabled artists from across the country. This hugely successful event, with learning disabled curators, presenters, facilitators and ushers, cemented a warm and productive relationship between Venture Arts and HOME that has already seen some exciting results. Shortly before this HOME began hosting a Cultural Enrichment placement with Venture Arts’ David and Liam. Both were involved in the Creative Minds conference too - Liam as
a speaker and steering group member, and David as an usher. The conference gave both participants a great opportunity to share the knowledge of HOME they had already picked up. On their placement the pair focused on the film and theatre departments, in particular vintage films and the cinema projector. They also enjoyed learning about the history of HOME’s precursor The Cornerhouse and its part in Manchester heritage. Together they designed a map of HOME featuring their personal highlights, and a poster inviting groups to their tour. 48
Both forged great connections with the venue, with David in particular now visiting regularly and joining in HOME’s young people’s initiatives.
“We talked about the Projector, the classical films that are being shown at HOME and the history behind HOME” - David “Working with David has been a pleasure and his boundless enthusiasm has been infectious! He has been confident in introducing himself, making friends and throwing himself into every task… David had a great attitude and work ethic across his placement” - Ella Walker, Volunteer and Work-based Training Manager, HOME “I thought it went rather brilliantly, it was great getting to meet people. It was a relaxed atmosphere as well that I liked. It was fun doing my tour and sitting in the Zen room after” - Liam looking back on his experience 50
The venue has shown their commitment to working with Venture Arts by securing funding for a further placement for 2 of our participants with a media focus. They are also opening up positions for learning disabled ambassadors to advocate for improved accessibility and work as ushers for relaxed performances. Former Cultural Enrichment participant Dominic, who had previously completed placements at People’s History Museum and the Royal Exchange Theatre, was accepted onto ‘Project X’ - HOME’s collective of innovative, emerging young artists. The group, comprising young people from diverse backgrounds, 51
worked together over the course of a year to stage This is Human: a ‘takeover’ of HOME’s exhibition spaces throughout August 2017, with cutting-edge art and interactive pieces. Venture Arts’ own Dominic devised a playable arcade game ‘Weasel Nation’ which was situated in the HOME foyer for visitors to enjoy. He designed visuals and devised the plot, about a group of dastardly weasels plotting to take over HOME, and collaborated with artist Pat Farrell and others to make it real. The game featured superhero characters with disabilities, voiced by fellow Venture Arts artists. HOME has also been working closely with Dominic to realise his idea of a club
night for learning disabled young people, in response to a growing demand from those fed up with having their social lives abruptly cut short due to lack of after-hours support. ‘House Party’ will take place quarterly, with ‘open mic, live music, DJ's and dancing till late’. And in May 2018 HOME launched AMP (Accessible Music Productions), monthly music workshops ‘for music lovers, makers and shakers aged 18-25 with different abilities and additional needs’. Delivered in partnership with Dominic and Venture Arts, and featuring an exciting line up of professional musicians, the workshops support people to ‘write, play and create music from an eclectic mix of sounds’.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS With a huge thanks to Rhiannon Davies for her brilliant support, to Heritage Lottery Fund for making this amazing programme possible, and to staff at all our partner organisations: - Peopleâ€™s History Museum - Manchester Museum - Royal Exchange Theatre - Whitworth Art Gallery - HOME
Published by Venture Arts 2018 Text by Aziza Mills and Rhiannon Davies Photographs by Rhiannon Davies Design by Naomi Davies Would your organisation like to take part in the programme? If so please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to one of the Venture Arts team on 0161 232 1223. 53
Making the case for learning disabled people to be at the heart cultural spaces