Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Artists with learning difficulties broaden appeal through Facebook

Artists with learning difficulties at West Sussex County Council’s Starburst Arts initiative are using the internet to find a larger audience for their work.

In what is thought to be a UK-first, members of Starburst Arts – a performing and visual arts initiative for adults with learning difficulties in West Sussex – are taking part in a project called 20ME12 that allows them to upload their art and to post their thoughts on their art via the social networking site Facebook.

The project allows people with learning difficulties and other marginalised artists to develop their art and to connect with the wider community using modern technology such as iPads and iMacs.

Members of the WRAP outreach group and the Pallant House Community Programme have also been learning the necessary skills through workshops held at the Boys Club, in Little London, Chichester, and the Pallant House Gallery. A further series of workshops will be held at The Wrenford Centre in the Autumn.

The work, which cost a total of £11,500, was funded by Arts Council England, through its Grants for the Arts stream and by West Sussex County Council through its learning difficulties small grants fund.

The project builds on Starburst Arts’ previous work of building its profile in the community.

This has been through social media, such as Twitter, its already existing and popular Facebook page, YouTube and Flickr, where members’ videos and photos are hosted, as well as through exhibitions of paintings in places like Chichester Library.

Graham Tyler, Deputy Cabinet Member for Health and Adults’ Services and also co-chairman of the Learning Difficulties Partnership Board, said: “We believe this may be the first time such a scheme like this has taken place.

“This is an interesting scheme that will allow people with learning difficulties or other marginalised artists the freedom to connect with the community by using technology and I have enjoyed seeing the art that members have been producing.”