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Pallant House Gallery

Transcript of Video: 'I am Stefan van Raay and I am the director of Pallant House Gallery, and we won the Gulbenkian Prize for many reasons, and one of the reasons was that we… is our outreach and education programme, lifelong learning programme. The judges said, Francine Stocks is the chairman, was the chairman of the judges, she said that because there is nothing elitist about this gallery, there’s nothing inaccessible about the gallery, that was one of the reasons why we won the prize. There are many other reasons as well but that was a very important one. I’m Marc Steene; I’m Head of Learning at Pallant House Gallery, I’m responsible for all the learning within the gallery - that includes the schools programme, our in-house programme, and a range of community projects and activities. Get a Plan had a huge impact at Pallant House Gallery. We already had some elements in place surrounding inclusion and access but actually, having that sort of holistic overview of the organisation from our mission statement, through to our trusteeship, our policies, our programming, looking at how we recruit, it gave us a really powerful tool to implement change, and drive forward those issues around access, which are really pivotal to us, now. Pallant House Gallery undertook a major redevelopment. We vastly improved our facilities, we have new galleries, we have a restaurant and a bookstore, and what seems a key part of that process was to involve and consult with people with a range of disabilities. We set up a disability and access focus group at the start of our project to work with the architects and senior staff members and just in order to have that sort of voice and to have people there who would input from a personal basis about access. Down to that group we now have left hand and right hand transference toilets purely because one of the group members looking at the plans at an early stage said “I’m not going to be able to use these toilets” and the architects went, “Oh!”, and then they had to go away and redesign the toilets and that shows you how powerful it is on a personal level, an access audit didn’t pick that up but a wheelchair user within the group made that point. They now sit and consult, they have a whole range of issues, and they are a powerful advocate in the baste of the gallery. Partners In Art is a scheme that pairs up a trained volunteer who is an artist or someone who is very keenly involved in arts or Pallant House Gallery, with someone else who is also an artist or interested in distant galleries, who, for whatever reason, has difficulties in accessing that, and we support on the scheme a whole range of people with a range of needs from learning difficulties, physical disabilities, who are impaired, we’ve had people who are blind on the scheme, and this has been a powerful tool for empowering and developing people’s networks, access to community and to Pallant House Gallery. We’ve had, over five years, well over fifty, sixty people involved in the scheme, and it is a thriving and ongoing project. As a member of Partners In Art, each of the partnerships are entitled to have an exhibition once a year within the Gallery. It’s called Partnership for the Month and we’ve had a range of partnerships exhibiting. Currently its Peter and Derek, a long-standing partnership of over five years. Peter is a well-established sculpture in the area and Derek is an artist with learning difficulties who’s been practising for many years. They’re now key members of the Gallery and sit on a Disability and Access focus group and are just seen as stalwart, key members of the Gallery. Hidden Histories is a project that the Gallery undertook in the last two years to look at the collections and the artists, looking at issues around disability and to tell the stories which aren’t told, to make the Gallery and the collections seem perhaps relevant to a wider audience, so instead of somebody coming in and just saying “Ivan Hitchins is a vortacist”, you might find out that somebody perhaps suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or had mental health issues, and I think when the gallery reaches out and shows those sorts of messages and stories it can seem the artist’s more accessible and you can have a different connection to it, whether you know art history or not, you can perhaps engage with someone’s life journey. One artist in particular, Victor Willing, is somebody I knew myself, who taught me, and he’s in the collection and is in the research. He had multiple sclerosis and when he taught me he was a wheelchair user, and what was not known, people didn’t know he had scaffolding created in his studios so he could climb up and paint these massive canvases which would have been impossible for him to do, and no one would know that, so when he told me, and I put in the research and that’s why it’s interesting, for me, on a personal level as well.'