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Project information

Art for young people with learning disabilities

Working with artists, young people and teachers from local special educational needs schools, Get the Message offers innovative ways of experiencing contemporary art. The project aims to challenge perceptions of disability through collaborative activities which champion all forms of expression.

September 2018 - July 2019

Charity information: Camden Arts Centre

Camden Arts Centre logo
  • Need


    Across the visual arts, there is a lack of accessible programmes and opportunities for people with learning disabilities.

    There is a need for initiatives which engage young people with disabilities with contemporary art, and for activities which champion all forms of self-expression and communication.

    There is also a need for more opportunities for learning disabled artists to lead projects and develop careers within the arts sector.


    For Get the Message, we are working with 30 people aged 11-17 with profound learning disabilities, in partnership with local specialist schools. Over an academic year the students will participate in practical artist-led workshops in our galleries and studios with a summer exhibition showcasing the work made on the project. Now in it's 15th year, the project helps the students to flourish in their education and beyond. We're also working with a learning disabled artist to co-lead the sessions.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Increased opportunities for creative expression, participating in and creating art


    » Practical artist-led workshops in our galleries and Drawing Studio in partnership with SEN schools
    » A summer exhibition showcasing the work made on the project

    What success will look like

    At least 30 young people with learning disabilities from three schools will participate in Get The Message over the project year - hopefully year!

    Aim 2

    Improved confidence and independence


    » Encounters with contemporary art practice, both in the galleries and working with learning disabled and non-disabled artists
    » Workshops comprise a range of activities which champion all forms of communication and self-expression

    What success will look like

    The project evaluation from 2016/17 shows that 75% of participants have each improved in confidence, independence or both!

    Aim 3

    Improved practice in education and participation provision for people with learning disabilities


    » We are working with Andrew Omoding, an artist with learning disabilities to co-lead the project
    » Artists will be trained in delivering visual arts education and participation work with/for learning disabled people

    What success will look like

    At least five artists have trained in delivering visual arts education and participation work with/for learning disabled people.

  • Impact


    Get The Message uses art education which is especially effective in developing non-cognitive skills in/for students with profound and multiple learning disabilities to help them; improve communication and learning attainment and work in a public venue in mixed groups, build confidence, social networks and independence, and support them during transition beyond secondary school. Effectively monitoring the outcomes set for this programme is one of our key priorities.


    Get The Message is a long-running project with a track record of over 15 years. As the project has progressed we have adapted it to meet the needs of the young people, teachers and artists who make it happen. Most notably, with working with ActionSpace we have recruited an artist with learning disabilities to co-lead the project and offer valuable insight. Strong and well established relationships are the foundation of this project and its ongoing success.


    Donors can access regular updates about Get The Message activity both via our website and our Education blog. They will also be invited to key project events. Formal reporting, including the project evaluation, will be shared with donors at the end of the academic year.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £25,244

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £21,079 Artist and Assistant fees To plan and deliver workshops
      £1,170 Technician fees Specialist transport for SEN students to and from the Centre
      £1,985 Materials For an academic year's worth of workshops
      £1,010 Marketing, Admin & Transport Promotion of end of year exhibition, general office costs and specialist transport

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    City Bridge Trust £14,468 Guaranteed
    Goldsmith's Company Charity £2,000 Guaranteed
    David Solomons Trust £1,000 Guaranteed
    John Horniman’s Children’s Trust £1,500 Guaranteed
  • Background


    We are a gallery based in north London, and our programme has a national and international reach through exhibitions, residencies, education projects and events.

    For Get the Message, we work primarily with SEN students and special schools in Camden and adjacent London boroughs of Brent and Barnet.


    As well as the 30 young people who take part in the project each year, we see benefits for the artists and teachers, and families of the students involved as they increase in confidence and independence. At the end of the project we host a schools and families day to bring everyone involved together for a celebration.

    In the future, we hope to work with more schools if funding permits.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have acknowledged expertise in delivering art projects for/with learning disabled students, and have grown up alongside the children and young people who first joined. It is a natural progression for us to support them as young adults in their further training and artistic endeavors; and to extend Get The Message to work with artists with learning disabilities. We are continually developing in response to key challenges we have identified with our partners

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Gemma Wright

    Head of Education and former Education Organiser, Gemma has a close relationship with the project and our participants.

    Andrew Omoding

    An artist with learning disabilities who co-leads the project. More about Andrew - http://actionspace.org/artists/andrew-omoding/

    Betsy Dadd

    An artist who co-leads the project. More about Betsy - http://cargocollective.com/betsydadd/

    India Harvey

    An artist who co-leads the project. More about India - http://cargocollective.com/dontcomplain

At home he is asking for more and more materials to make art, which is really encouraging. He seems to get satisfaction and calmness through doing the sessions.

Parent of a child with learning disabilities who takes part in Get The Message