Norwich charity launches equal opportunities art gallery

A groundbreaking new Norwich gallery will offer visitors an array of creative talent to choose from and help give opportunities to those with learning disabilities at the same time.

October will see the opening of the 'artshoproject' in Earlham Road, which will incorporate a place for work to be exhibited with a printing facility and new website.

It is the brainchild of the Norfolk and Norwich Scope Association (NANSA), which offers support to those with cerebal palsy, and will feature work from its members as well as offering them vital training opportunities.

Irene Arundel, 56, is project leader and will be retail manager at the store. She became involved as efforts to move to another site in Norwich fell through last summer, and said those involved were 'overjoyed' when it emerged in June that a lease had been secured on the new site.

Since then she and nine members of NANSA, aged between 18 and 25 years old, have been renovating the space ahead of next month's planned opening.

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'Artists will be exhibited and it will be run as a proper gallery,' she said. 'It's important because it will give artists the opportunity to exhibit without any pre-judgement.It will be the art that matters, not who you are or where you're from.'

The charity has been established for more than 50 years, and currently members at its Bowthorpe Road centre take part in art classes, from which some work will be drawn.

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However, Ms Arundel added that pieces by members of NANSA would be shown alongside those outside the organisation.

'It will be a level playing field giving those involved an equal footing with those in the wider art world,' she said.

In the gallery, based in the Earlham House Shoppping Centre, there will also be a place in which prints of the works, as well as the originals, can be sold. The shop will then launch its website.

And it is hoped that as well as offering new skills to those involved in setting up the shop and running it on a day-to-day basis, there will also be permanent paid employment on offer.

Hannah Gill, 23, is a member of NANSA who is helping pave the way for the gallery alongside her fellow volunteers. For the past few months she has been doing everything from painting through to general cleaning. Having built up her skills along the way, she is also hoping to secure a job.

Miss Gill, who has been working on the project for more than a year, said it was important to involve the public in such efforts and added: 'It helps show that people with disabilities can draw too. It's exciting to be close to the opening and there are a lot of skills to learn. I would like to stay here full time if I can.'

To find out more about the charity, go to

Are you helping the arts flourish? Call John Owens on 01603 772439.

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