Creative Minds brings together artists and performers with learning disabilities and a range of people from the wider arts world to look at quality, leadership, inclusion and collaboration.

Karen Flood and Karl Green speaking at the Creative Minds conference, Manchester 2017
Martin Livesey

Creative Minds was started in 2013 by a group of learning disabled artists and performers who felt that their work was not being taken seriously.

They organised an event at Brighton Dome bringing together  arts organisations, venues and producers, universities and colleges and arts critics and many other learning disabled artists and performers. They wanted to look at how they could improve their relationship with the wider arts world.

Since then there have been three other conferences in Bristol (2014), Ipswich (2015) and Manchester (2017). We are now planning  a conference in  Birmingham along with smaller events in other parts of the country.  The Birmingham conference will have a specific youth focus and is called “Creative Minds – A Better Generation”.  Creative Minds has had an active role in a number of other conferences and seminars.  Additionally we have a team of learning disabled writers who review performances and exhibitions of work by disabled and non-disabled companies, artists and performers.  Next year we will be developing Creative Minds Phase Two to further the conversation between the learning disability arts sector and the wider arts world.

Our last conference in Manchester in June 2107  was attended by representatives from venues, and arts organisations across the spectrum of art including visual art, theatre, music and dance. This included people from BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Arts, representatives from Arts Council England, Castlefield Gallery, The Lowry, High Peaks Arts, The Brewery Centre for Arts, Proud and Loud Theatre Company and Dance Syndrome as well as learning disabled artists and performers. The event sold out with 203 delegates attending.

Creative Minds North was the fourth regional disability led conference in the UK produced by Carousel and Venture Arts in collaboration with the following organisations from across the region:

Mind The Gap (Bradford); DIY Theatre (Manchester); First Step (Liverpool), Lawnmower Theatre (Newcastle); Tin Arts (Durham); More Music (Morecambe); Dark Horse Theatre (Huddersfield); Blue Room at the Bluecoat Gallery (Liverpool); Prism Arts (Cumbria) and Headway Arts (Northumberland)

The conference continued the discussion about how art is created by learning disabled people and the way this art is talked about, created and presented.

The main themes covered were:

– How do we create great art?

– What does the term professional mean?

– How can the work be best described and discussed?

– How can we help the wider arts world to commission work?

The conference themes were looked at in a variety of accessible ways.

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