Working in partnership with disabled people

One of the most effective ways of developing audiences of disabled people is to work in partnership with a disability organisation. Disabled people are not only experts at access issues, but often have extensive networks which might otherwise be hard for an arts organisation to reach. Also, disabled people may have quite a different slant on an art form which brings new creative thinking to the work.

A successful partnership will allow plenty of time for planning and working through new ideas. Ideally both organisations will learn from each other, and good relationships will provide the groundwork for development in future.

Some examples of partnerships:

  • A jointly-led workshop project using workshop leaders from one or both organisations
  • Partner brings specific expertise to your project (marketing, finding participants, access advice etc)
  • Your organisation brings specific expertise to partners project (artists, performers, workshop leaders etc)

Where to find partners:

  • Arts organisations or arts projects led or co-led by disabled people
  • Impairment specific organisations (for deaf people, blind and visually impaired people, people with learning difficulties, people with mental health issues, etc)
  • Schools and colleges with disabled students
  • Local day services for disabled people
  • Local disability group or access group
  • Play services that include disabled children

Action Points


  • Find examples of other partnerships between arts organisations and disabled people which have worked well
  • Establish broad aims for your project (allow for some flexibility with potential partners)
  • Contact organisations / groups with a view to partnership
  • Arrange meeting (see consulting and engaging with disabled people)

Terms of partnership

  • Establish what each organisation is able to bring to the project
  • Establish how you will work together, e.g. regularity of meetings, preferred methods of communication

If fund raising is needed

  • Discuss which funding bodies to approach for grants
  • Agree who will lead which funding applications
  • Arrange to approve applications led by the other organisation before being submitted – and vice-versa.

Before the project gets underway

Agree responsibility for various aspects of the project, e.g. booking venue, booking artists, organising access, marketing, monitoring.

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