The RBSA engages in outreach projects with groups across the region to ensure that everyone can access our artists, artwork and Permanent Collection.
Our work can be divided into three main areas:
- Supporting artists
- Selling original works of art and craft
- Helping everyone engage with the visual arts
This last aim has been written into the ethos of the organisation for more than 200 years.
In a bid to bring the visual arts to everyone, the RBSA is improving access for groups who may experience barriers to enjoying our events and exhibitions.
We are working with Birmingham-based Focus, who work with people with visual impairment and sight loss, and Sense, the charity for people with complex communication needs.
A main aim is to take our Permanent Collection to people who for a variety of reasons can’t attend the gallery. The RBSA understands that it can be impractical, and for some people quite daunting, to attempt a trip into town.
That’s why we are bringing art to you.
If you are a charity or an individual who wants to increase contact with the visual arts, why not get in touch?
Group or individual guided tours are available at our Gallery, and workshop sessions out in the community can be tailored to your needs.
Ian Reynolds, a volunteer art tutor who works with Focus, the main sight loss charity in Birmingham, said: ‘I’d thoroughly recommend the RBSA to other groups. We were able to bring a new perspective to our work at the Focus centre, and had access to professional art tools and materials. The sessions we’ve had have been highly successful and people have really enjoyed them.’
We are very grateful to West Midlands Museum Development, who funded our project with Focus, and to the following organisations for funding our work with Sense:
The George Fentham Birmingham Charity, The Roughley Trust, The Heart of England Community Foundation, The Harry Payne Fund, The Oakley Charitable Trust, The Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust, The Dumbreck Charity.
How to book an outreach visit
- Call or e-mail the RBSA Gallery on 0121 236 4353, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ask to speak to Natalie Osborne, the Learning and Engagement Manager.
- Provide information, such as: the type of activity you would like, the times you would like this to take place, the group size, and location.
- Where funding is available, the RBSA will provide activities for free. However, if funding is not available, we have to charge to cover costs. Therefore, please also mention what budget you have. Where possible, we always try to offer something within budget.
- All activities are administered by an RBSA staff member, delivered by a professional artist, and designed in line with RBSA safeguarding and health & safety policies. Outlines and risk assessments can also be provided.
- If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Natalie (working hours Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm), who will be very happy to help you.
- How to find us (includes access film): http://www.rbsa.org.uk/whats-on/how-to-find-us/
- Disabled access guide: http://www.rbsa.org.uk/whats-on/disabled-access-guide/
- RBSA What’s On: http://www.rbsa.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/current/
- Focus Birmingham website: https://www.focusbirmingham.org.uk/
This work is part of a project funded by the West Midlands Museum Development Fund, which is managed by Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust with funding from Arts Council England.
Charlene Kerr-Spencer, 35, has always been blind in her right eye, but since the progression of Kerataconus in her left eye, she has been finding things more of a struggle.
Charlene, who used to work as a coronary nurse, is now partially sighted. But although there are many things she can no longer do, she has learnt with the help of Focus to discover how to approach things differently.
‘It’s getting easier,’ she said. ‘At first I was keen to go back to nursing, but I can’t drive and you lose your independence. You learn that you have to do things differently, even simple things like doing your hair.’
The art group has been a lifeline for Charlene as she copes with all the changes sight loss can bring: ‘Creativity has been so important, as has making things up as you go along. I learnt that here. I thought I wouldn’t be able to paint again, but was shown simple things like how enlarging a picture or using a darker pencil can help.
‘Before, I thought blindness was black and white. You can see, or you’re blind. But it isn’t like that. I have accepted I can’t do what I used to do but Focus gives you the chance to do other things, and do them differently.’
Asif Mehrvan, 38, was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 2006, and said: ‘I knew something was wrong as I was getting blurred vision at work, and when I was told it was RP it took some time to get to grips with it, but I took it in my stride. I used to box and do martial arts. I was a sprayer in a body shop.
‘Everything I had wanted to do as a young lad, I couldn’t do anymore – the sport in particular.
‘But although the fitness side of things has decreased, I’m socialising more these days and sharing my experiences with others. I found out about Focus through their desk at the hospital and joined the art class about 18 months ago.
‘It gets me out and about and shows me a different side to creativity that I didn’t think I had. Plus you’re learning something new.’