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Title: Project Art Works asks how we make neurodiverse artists more visible
Date: 30th October 2019

EXPLORERS conference: Art, Rights and Representation – November 20 / 21 at Milton Keynes Gallery

Coming at a moment of political chaos and general uncertainty about the future in the UK, this event will examine the right of people with disabilities to cultural life; personal and institutional empathy and how two decades of discourse about diversity and inclusion have or have not changed the balance of representation in art and culture.

The timing of the conference is relevant given recent social media and press coverage on attitudes within the art world and cultural institutions towards people with disabilities. Articles in The Guardian and Frieze magazine make reference to Ciara O’Connor, a journalist and wheelchair user who had visited Tate Modern, and subsequently took to Twitter about the accessibility of the Olafur Eliasson exhibition. Her comments sparked a flurry of online commentary about accessibility in art institutions but also whether the art world ever considers the physical, psychological, social, and political marginalisation people with disabilities face.

The conference will examine issues such as these, as well as seeking change not just for audiences but for disabled artists who have long been excluded from the mainstream .

If the art world does continue to have a problem with people with disabilities then we have to make the changes ourselves.

Quote from Kate Adams, Artist Director and CEO, Project Art Works
“If you are at all interested in art, people and change you should come. The conference will above all else generate insight and understanding between people. It will provide practical guidance and show different ways of addressing representation in art and culture.

It will also provide insight into the lived experience of autism, disability and complex needs that in itself is hugely interesting territory for us all – not just people who live it.  We will cover communication, behavior, perception, art, signing, empathy, photography and new ways of seeing and exploring art – including the exquisite Stubbs exhibition now showing at MK Gallery”.

Quote from Anthony Spira, Director, MK Gallery
‘At MK Gallery we are extremely proud of our on-going collaboration with Project Art Works. Through regular training sessions for staff since 2010, a survey exhibition of projects by Project Art Works in 2011 and the recent partnership as part of Explorers, MK Gallery continues to prioritise programmes with and for neurodiverse people. The facilities in the new gallery building have been designed to enable new programmes and we hope this conference will stimulate new conversations and ideas.’

Quote from Oliver Sumner, Manager, CVAN South East
“Art is important, and everyone has the right to be a part of it. What we want to ask on the first day is, how our visual arts sector, its publicly-funded institutions, programmes and practices, can be made to be as inclusive as we know art, in itself, really is.”

The conference Art, Rights and Representation marks both an end and a beginning. It marks the last quarter of the EXPLORERS project that has involved 3 years of art and collaboration between neuro-minorities, galleries, artists, social care and other organisations with partners across the UK and in Sydney Australia.

The conference marks a point of departure for all the legacy initiatives that have come out of the collaborations and co-commissions of EXPLORERS..

As well as showcasing the work and practice by neurodiverse artists the conference will include participative workshops, creative practice and non-verbal communication by and with neurodiverse facilitators. There will be practical support and training including: Makaton, Accessibility toolkits, Awareness Raising and Positive Behaviour Support.
Day 1
– Artists from Intoart (London) and Project Art Works (Sussex)
– CVAN South East – Dialogues – Towards Change Seminar

Day 2
– Artists from ActionSpace (London), Project Art Works (Sussex)
– Sir Peter Bazalgette – writer and broadcaster
– Moira Sinclair – Chief Executive, Paul Hamlyn Foundation
– Joanna Grace – The Sensory Projects

Download the draft programme here. Please note this is subject to small changes.

Partners and contributing organisations also include:
Arts Council EnglandAutographChallenging Behaviour FoundationDe La Warr PavilionFabricaMK GalleryOutside InPhoenix Art SpacePhotoworksTate Liverpool Explorers art and social care consortium, UNSW Institute for Experimental Arts, Museum of Contemporary Arts Australia

On Wednesday 20 November the afternoon programme, Inclusive Practice, is organised with CVAN South East as part of Dialogues – Towards Change; a series of three consultative events exploring ways to realise equal rights and representation in the visual arts. CVAN South East is funded by Arts Council England for this event.

For further information, interviews or images please contact Jessica Courtney Bennett, Communications Coordinator, on [email protected] or 01424 423555.

Notes To Editors

Taking place against a backdrop of increased hardship and intolerance toward disabled people, the aim of EXPLORERS is to develop positive relationships between cultural organisations and the social care sector and to reposition people who have complex needs at the forefront of mainstream culture. The programme led by Project Art Works is taking place with multiple partners and galleries including Autograph, Fabrica, De La Warr Pavilion, MK Gallery, National Institute for Experimental Arts UNSW, Photoworks and Tate Liverpool.

The EXPLORERS project is supported by the Arts Council Ambition for Excellence Programme and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. 

About Project Art Works
Project Art Works is an artist-led organisation that makes and promotes art as a means of connection with and for people with complex needs. They collaborate with neurodiverse communities, galleries, health and social care agencies to promote inclusion in civic and cultural life.

About CVAN South East
A network of organisations across the visual arts sector in the South East of England, Contemporary Visual Arts Network South East works together to create a stronger visual arts ecology for the region. 

Email: [email protected]
Address: Project Art Works, Arch 3, Braybrooke Terrace, Hastings, Sussex, TN34 1TD.
Telephone: 01424 423555

For press images please visit 

To book tickets to the EXPLORERS Conference please use the links


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