Exposure to art and culture is important to everyone. It gives a sense of social identity and well-being. People with learning disabilities benefit in exactly the same way, which is why we believe it is essential that we offer them access to inspirational art.

Artwork by a client taking part in the Wealth & Poverty project

Outside In Pathways was established in 2008 and offers a unique opportunity for people with learning disabilities (PWLD) to explore their cultural life whilst addressing the enormous barriers and problems that they face in becoming involved with the arts. Outside In works across all areas of the arts – music, photography, painting, collage, drama, dance and movement – and gives participants the opportunity to explore different media, develop new skills and also to explore new and previously unvoiced aspirations to lead a life that is enriched by the arts.


How we started

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea originally funded two projects taking people with learning disabilities to the museums at South Kensington in London. One project was for people with high support needs and the other was for families with children who had a learning disabilities. These were small-scale projects with limited funding but they were very much appreciated by the participants. Based on the success of this work, Deborah Evans-Stickland felt inspired to extend the idea into something more ongoing and ambitious, offering art activities in the museums. She approached Barry Ginley, the Disability Access Officer at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London and he agreed to host the project.

The need for change

Many people with learning disabilities face real barriers to becoming involved with mainstream culture and art.

The Outside In project was set up to lower some of these barriers by creating opportunities for people to go to museums and galleries and take advantage of the facilities such places offer.

The Outside In project actively invites people with learning disabilities to come to museums and galleries and provides high quality teaching in the arts including photography, filming, drawing and collage making. The project offers a unique chance to enjoy and learn about the arts in a socially inclusive and relaxed environment.

The benefits of social inclusion

We were dissatisfied with the restrictions imposed on the lives of people with disability and autism which appeared to come from NHS Primary Care Trust and social services and their provision for people. We evolved a way of working in order to create a situation which is as participant led as it can be, which focuses on the influence of these surroundings and the profound effect of inclusion, that these surroundings have on participants. Many artists agree that civilization is a group of profoundly social ideas which reside in the imagination. Artefacts, performances, architecture, all the arts in fact, embody profound social ideas. A further question arises ‘to whom does civilisation belong?’ Journeys are equally beneficial to facilitators as the journeys are to the participants.


Find out more about our projects and look through our catalogue of photos and participant artwork.
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Find out more about what we are currently up to with our latest news.
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