Work+play: developing an appropriate culture of support

“We have a vague idea of what we want” – a quote by Arty Party member Adrian which became the focus for an Arty Party t-shirt in 2006.

It was a statement that brilliantly seemed to sum up the slightly out of focus, anarchic spirit of the collective. A collective that was held together by strong bonds of friendship, generosity and sociability. Some of the group were interested in art which was handy as that was where we got our funding from. But even those that weren’t interested in drawing or performing  seemed to share an extraordinary capacity for thinking and behaving ‘outside the box’.

Whilst no one would pretend a learning disability is a good thing, it does place an individual in an interesting place from which art is possible. Half the struggle of any artist is to find an original voice from which to speak from. The members of Arty Party have never seemed to have trouble with this.

We have spent many years since Arty Party’s inception attempting to improve the ways in which we can support people with learning disabilities to make work. The idea has always been if we can be really intelligent about the support we offer, then the ideas, the inspiration for work, can come exclusively from our members.

So Work+play is a collaboration between people with learning disabilities and those without in which the latter are ideally acting as critical friends and as silent partners in the work that is produced.

This is hugely challenging work that is massively rewarding when it goes well.

Kevin Hodgetts 2009. Work+Play Project Manager.