Welcome to all things LEVEL.
For over 25 years, LEVEL has pioneered the transformative power of the arts to enrich the creative lives of people with learning disabilities.
Today, the LEVEL Centre brings to rural Derbyshire the kind of contemporary arts space, facilities and technical resources normally only found in cities.
A development centre for artists in rural Derbyshire, LEVEL is home for its world-leading arts projects with learning disabled people, as well as a treasure trove of resources and contemporary workspace for artists everywhere.
LEVEL is a workshop and event space, a training centre, a space for artists developing new creative ideas and an exhibition and installation gallery.
LEVEL creates stimulating arts with over 6,000 people every year, developing and promoting the creativity and creative culture of people with learning disabilities, locally, nationally and internationally.
Into the future, LEVEL will continue to create new art, projects and R&D programmes that inspire and inform the learning disabled community to produce high quality art across every genre and share it across the world.
2016-2018 at LEVEL will see a programme of arts projects, events, installations, exhibitions, discussions, collaborations and alternative clubs … most of which celebrates the art that ‘difference’ makes and all of which showcases art.
… and Then
Almost 30 years ago, two artists and a group providing activities for people with learning disabilities started to discuss the idea of creating an experiential arts project for those with major communication difficulties. The big question was – could such a project be desirable, affordable, even possible? It so happened that it was.
Armed with a grant of £5,000 a year for 3 years from the Paul Getty Foundation, this original group sought out the people with least access to creative opportunities living in hospitals (then homes for people with learning disabilities) or attending special schools and they wowed the establishment with arts events which assaulted the senses and invited everyone to join in. The service providers became the first Trustees of the charity – then called First Movement – and the artists were Peter Shelton and Caroline Bagnall – LEVEL’s first employees.
Says co-founder Caroline Bagnall: “Peter and I had run a similar, very successful organisation in London, radically changing the experiences of people incarcerated in long-stay hospitals and homes. Our first regular events began at our project base – a scruffy community centre in the heart of Matlock. Twenty years later, in September of 2008, the fantastic, custom built LEVEL Centre was opened. It was the beginning of a new era.”
LEVEL’s work in the arts with the learning disabled community gave the Centre its name. LEVEL as a project was a unique take on using video conferencing to create a ‘virtual collaboration space’, where people with learning disabilities many miles apart – often isolated by nature of their resources – came together on one ‘virtual stage’ to participate and create work together.
LEVEL continues to develop new projects, resources and tools to provide stimulating opportunities for creative engagement and its digital work continues to be the cutting edge of LEVEL, increasingly striving to create collaborations with local, national and international partners, organisations and artists to make the best art possible.
Over the years, LEVEL has been privileged to have the support of many individuals and organisations. They have each enabled us to establish the organisation, to build the LEVEL Centre, to provide a highly skilled workforce and Board, and to open our hands ever wider to continue and extend the projects – in the Centre, out and about in the community and across the world.
Our thanks go to our current funders and sponsors. Without you our hands are tied.
- Arts Council England www.artscouncil.org.uk
- Derbyshire County Council www.derbyshire.gov.uk
- Derby City Council www.derby.gov.uk
- BGC Partners, London http://www.bgcpartners.com/about-us/charity/
- North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group http://www.northderbyshireccg.nhs.uk/