Project information

The RA Disability Arts Project

The RA Disability Arts Project is a specially created programme of arts activities for children and adults with disabilities.

We work with local organisations from special needs schools to dementia services, and aim to shatter the illusion that national arts venues are only relevant to the few.

January 2011 - December 2012

Charity information: The Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy of Arts logo
  • Need


    Often people with special or particular needs can find major arts venues intimidating and unwelcoming.

    This project aims to help meet the cultural and social needs of visitors with disabilities and their carers. Research has shown that engaging in art can:
    1. help build someone's confidence
    2. give them an opportunity to communicate and express emotions
    3. overcome feelings of isolation.

    Our goal is to provide a project that helps people in these 3 ways.


    The project provides regular and specially designed activities in a friendly and welcoming environment.

    This includes:
    private views of exhibitions for wheelchair users;
    audio-description and handling events;
    BSL, lip-speaking and captioned gallery tours;
    practical art sessions for people with dementia;
    tailor made workshops for people with learning difficulties;
    and an Access Volunteer programme which trains participants to host the projects.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To create a meaningful, welcoming and long-term programme irrespective of participants' abilities


    » Provide over 50 tailored events each year
    » Offer specially designed resources such as handling materials, multi-sensory props, Braille and voice-activated text facilities
    » Involve a team of trained group leaders including deaf hosts and audio describers
    » Invest in training volunteers

    What success will look like

    Success will be receiving over 800 visitors and involving at least 15 community organisations in the programme

    Aim 2

    To give participants a sense of achievement and opportunity to communicate with others


    » Provide practical art-making activities where people can create individual responses to artworks they have seen
    » Offer small, informal exhibition tours where people are encouraged to express their opinions and engage in debate
    » Run a regular calendar of events where people can meet and socialise with others

    What success will look like

    Success will be filling events to 80% capacity or more, attracting at least 35% repeat visits, and increasing the number of group leaders who previously took part in the project

  • Impact


    The RA Disability Arts Project will increase the number of visitors with disabilities and will improve the quality of their experience at the Royal Academy.

    We will demonstrate its success by attracting at least 800 participants/year to the programme, involving more audience members and project advisers and leaders, and filling events to 80% capacity or more.


    The Royal Academy is a charity that relies heavily on income from its exhibitions, trading operations, its Friends scheme, sponsorship and donations from supporters.

    None of these income sources are fixed or guaranteed and so there is a risk we will not be able to fund the RA Disability Arts Project and will need to reduce its scope.

    To try and reduce this risk, we have ensured the budget is realistic and moderate and will regularly assess the levels of donated income.


    We would be happy to send donors updates by email and our annual report and accounts.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £64,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £16,000 Private views Regular exhibition private views for deaf, blind and wheelchair users
      £16,000 Special projects For those with learning disabilities and SEN schools
      £16,000 Art workshops For those with mental ill health, and drug, alcohol or prisoner rehabilitation programmes
      £16,000 Dementia programme For those with dementia and their carers
  • Background


    London and Greater London


    * Deaf, deafened and hard-of-hearing adults
    * Blind and partially sighted adults
    * Children with moderate and profound learning difficulties
    * Adults affected by mental ill health
    * Young adults in local drug rehabilitation programmes
    * People with dementia
    * Adult offenders
    * Carers, teachers, and support workers

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Last year the Royal Academy tripled its audience to its Disability Arts Project. With your help we can continue to offer a programme that can be enjoyed by as diverse a group of people as possible.

    Here is some feedback from our visitors:
    'Your initiative is the only way for disabled people to view such important exhibitions'. Wheelchair user

    'We have never been made so welcome anywhere as we were today' Teacher from Special Educational Needs schools visit, January 2011

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Kate Horbury

    Access Officer: Kate oversees the whole of the RA Disability Arts Project

    Harry Baxter

    Artist and workshop leader: Harry runs the practical sessions and art-making workshops

    Bridget Crowley

    Audio Describer and Trainer: Bridget leads the audio description and handling events for blind and partially sighted visitors

    David Johnson

    Trainer: David trains the volunteers who take part and host our workshops, tours and practical sessions.

Multi-sensory workshop

Multi-sensory workshop

"Your initiative is the only way for disabled people to view such important exhibitions"

Visitor to private view for Wheelchair Users