Reflective Expressive Artistic Learning (REAL) is a partnership project with a focus on the exchange of good practice. REAL will explore the experiences of learning disabled young people in the creative sector and reflect on inclusive practice, bringing best practice to the fore and raising the aspirations of young disabled artists so that they are more able to compete in the mainstream.

Throughout the project we will explore the concept of quality in learning disability arts, what this is and how it impacts on the experiences of young learning disabled people.

How do we identify, attain and maintain quality in the creative process when working with learning disabled young people?
How important is quality and how does it help improve participation and inclusion?

Through practical explorations of the work of partner organisations and initiating conversations between partners we will:

  • explore the concept of quality in creative work by/for young learning disabled people.
  • explore process or product – where does the quality begin?
  • explore the process and value of critical thinking.
  • learn new methods of evaluation, self evaluation and critical thinking that are accessible and meaningful.
  • recognise the importance of quality work with/for young learning disabled people and raise the aspiration of young learning disabled people, thus enabling young learning disabled people to develop critical thinking skills which will enable them to make good choices about their future.

Learning Teaching Training Events will run alongside the explorations in order for youth workers to look at the reflection/ evaluation/ critical skills techniques used. These activities will take place in each partner country and will target youth workers, disability workers and those working in the arts and disability, from within the partner organisations. Sixteen places will be available for these LTT activities in each partner country who will work together with staff and groups of up to 15 learning disabled young people.

Through a combination of transnational workshops, conversations, learning events, online discussion and evaluation of ongoing activity within partner organisations the project will explore current approaches, experiences and models, investigate what is important and what isn’t, explore what works and what doesn’t and find ways to communicate that to the current conversations taking place regarding quality, inclusion and learning disability in the arts. More specifically the project will:

  • enable young learning disabled people to be more active both within the partner organisations and within their communities.
  • enable young learning disabled people to learn the importance of quality in their work so they are more able to compete within the mainstream.
  • develop the confidence and self-esteem of young learning disabled people, increase their motivation and understanding of what they can achieve.
  • challenge preconceptions of learning disabled young people and raise their profile, showing what can be achieved and providing a positive role model to others.
  • provide platforms for the work of young learning disability artists.
  • create new opportunities for the participating organisations to expand their current programme of work for young people.
  • create new opportunities for both learners and staff through the learning of new skills and working practices.
  • enable participating organisations and those working within those organisations to progress within their field.
  • improve language and communication skills of learners and staff involved in the project.
  • develop a greater awareness of the role disadvantaged people can play in the social, economic and cultural life of their communities.
  • contribute to the current national debates on quality and learning disability in the arts.
  • bring a European perspective to the current debates on quality and learning disability in the arts.
  • raise the profile of the use of the arts as a tool for change.
  • develop a stronger European arts and disability community working for the benefits of learning disabled people and in the current and longer term, add value to the existing debates on quality and learning disability in the arts.


The project partners are:

  • Headway Arts (project coordinators) – from the UK
  • Ad Astra – from Poland
  • Antigone – from Greece
  • Jaunuoliu dienos centras (JCD) – from Lithuania
  • Vo’Arte – from Portugal

The 18-month project will run between 1st September 2018 and 29th February 2020 and is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.


Project Social Media Accounts:


To see what our project partners have learnt so far, take a look at these short films below:






We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of all our funders which currently includes:

  • Arts Council England
  • Blyth Town Council
  • Community Foundation
  • Edward Gostling Foundation – RW Mann Trust – Shears Foundation
  • Erasmus+
  • Great Northumberland
  • Hadrian Trust – High Sheriff of Northumberland – Rothley Trust
  • Heritage Fund
  • National Lottery Community Fund
  • Northumberland County Council
  • Postcode Community Trust
  • Scope
  • Sir James Knott Trust
  • The 1989 Willan Trust – Wellesley Trust
  • the Coalfields Regeneration Trust