Artists use technology to connect with their audiences in Chichester

ARTISTS with learning difficulties in West Sussex are using the internet to find a larger audience for their work in what is thought to be a UK first.

Members of the county council’s Starburst Arts, a performing and visual arts initiative for adults with learning difficulties, are taking part in a project called 20ME12 that allows them to upload their art and post their thoughts on their art via the social networking site Facebook.

A county council spokesman said: “The project allows people with learning difficulties and other marginalised artists to develop their art and connect with the wider community using modern technology such as iPads and iMacs.”

Members of the WRAP outreach group and the Pallant House community programme have also been learning the necessary skills through workshops held at the Chichester Boys’ Club and Pallant House Gallery.

A further series of workshops are also going to be held at the Wrenford Centre in the autumn.

The work, costing a total of £11,500, was paid for by Arts Council England, through its Grants for the Arts stream, and by the county council through its learning difficulties small grants fund.

A county council spokesman added: “The project builds on Starburst Arts’ previous work of building its profile in the community, this has been through social media, such as Twitter, its already existing and popular Facebook page, YouTube and Flickr, where members’ videos and photos are hosted, as well as through exhibitions of paintings in places like Chichester library.”

Cllr Graham Tyler, deputy cabinet member for health and adults’ services, added: “We believe this may be the first time a scheme like this has taken place.

“This is an interesting scheme that will allow people with learning difficulties or other marginalised artists the freedom to connect with the community by using technology and I have enjoyed seeing the art that members have been producing.”