HIGH GROUND - Project in development


This New Ground is an ambitious initiative that seeks to elevate the artistic voices of people with learning disabilities. Our Collective of learning disabled artists are the driving force behind everything we do. Since May 2018 the Collective have been working towards a year long project called The Big Exchange. This project was a participant led project promoting the power and talents of adults with learning disabilities. It’s was an opportunity for the Collective to collaborate with more artists across different mediums, to create bold and inspiring work, new skills and develop their artistic talents. During the evaluation of this project it became clear that the Collective members were keen to take their participant led work to the next level.

“Let theatre’s be run by people with special needs. And give us the right support.” - Labake, Member of the TNG Collective

“Get people with learning disabilities making the decisions.” - Faisal, Member of the TNG Collective

These contributions from the Collective provoked lots of questions, why we do not have very visible learning disabled people in arts leadership roles? Why has this been prevented in the past and how can we, through our work, enable this to change.

And so the High Ground project was born.

What is High Ground

High Ground is a pop up arts hub in Hammersmith and Fulham led and co-created by adults with learning disabilities.

The arts hub will take place in a disused building or shopping outlet in Hammersmith and Fulham and will be utilised by the community. The hub will be led and co-created by the This New Ground’s Collective, made up of 13 learning disabled adults, however the programme will be geared toward multiple audiences.

The main focus of the hub will be centred around a full programme of community workshops, performances and events curated by the Collective. The Collective themselves will host 2-4 events a week, meanwhile the rest of the programme will be populated by other community and professional arts based groups and artists that the Collective will choose and programme. 

The audience focus of this hub and programme is as wide as possible, appealing to West London’s regular arts-going audience, anyone who can wander in off the street to observe or join in, families and local artists. The collective shall lead the day to day running of the hub alongside creative enablers thus promoting disability culture, removing barriers and increasing access to learning disabled people as leaders, makers and participants. Members of the Collective will take on roles such as receptionist and steward for the venue as well as events programmer, workshop facilitator and discussion host.

An example of what a typical week at High Ground Hub might look like:


11am - 1pm Drop in circus skills workshop

2pm - 4pm Drop in rehearsals where members of the public are welcome to observe rehearsals for a new devised theatre piece


11am - 1pm Drop in improvisation workshop

2pm - 4pm Live radio programme hosted by members of the Collective


11am - 1pm Drop in rehearsals where members of the public are welcome to observe rehearsals for a new devised theatre piece

2pm - 4pm Film screening


11am - 1pm Drop in inclusive choir workshop

2pm - 4pm  Drop in rehearsals where members of the public are welcome to observe rehearsals for a new devised theatre piece


11am - 1pm Chill out and workspace

2pm - 4pm Forum Discussion 'Art and Disability', hosted by members of the collective


11am - 1pm Build your own theatre set art workshop

2pm - 4pm Family friendly perfromance

By having the creation and design of the hub led by the Collective, this will explore what an ideal arts hub environment could be on a visual and cultural level for learning disabled people to enable their engagement, creation and leading of an artistic venue. The collective will work alongside a designer in order to create the perfect environment for them. The ongoing process of this will also be recorded and documented to be used as practical research material that can be passed onto permanent arts buildings so they can better enable learning disabled people in their buildings.

In addition to the mainstream programme of work, a specific outreach programme targeted towards other learning disabled artists and people will be developed, offering workshops in specific skills for career development for learning disabled artists and people that work with them. For example workshops around how to set yourself up as self-employed, how to manage your budgets, how to label yourself and your work within the wider arts world, how to access opportunities, funding and training. Alongside these workshops we plan to host forum discussions and networking events for learning disabled artists who also fall into other intersections such as the LGBTQ+ community and/or who are People of Colour.

The secondary arm to High Ground will be to assemble a core professional, integrated ensemble featuring performers with learning disabilities to take part in a research and development period working towards creating a new piece of devised theatre. The R&D period will take place in the High Ground arts Hub. Some of the rehearsals and devising process will be open to the public to drop in and observe. The actors involved will be auditioned and sourced from both the TNG Collective or from outside of it, widening the group of artists we work with. During our R&D period we will be working towards a scratch performance which will be performed both in the High Ground Arts Hub and in a professional theatre with the view for the perfromance to have a future life. By creating this stream of work, it aims to give the performers involved the skills and development to be professional performers beyond this context and to influence the conversation about the representation of learning disabled performers in our industry.

The R&D will be facilitated by Director, Nathalie Carrington. Nathalie aims to work responsively to ensemble to explore:

  • Methods and frameworks for actors with learning disabilities and speech and language difficulties to perform text and narrative based theatre

  • How integrated theatre collaborations can influence and enhance traditional methods of making theatre

  • How technology can be used to frame and enhance the performance

  • How to develop authentic, inclusive collaborations that culminate in high quality theatre productions for ever more mainstream audiences

  • The role theatre aesthetics play in making impactful integrated work on a large scale

To enable the High Ground project to happen we will be seeking support in infrastructure from partners in existing arts buildings, organisations and festivals. We will also benefit from the consultancy and guidance of ZooCo, a company that set up a similar space in Croydon, although this was not led or focused towards learning disabled people. We will also engage several facilitators to support the Collective members as well as community advocates who can work closely on our communications in attracting the wider community to engage with this project, regardless of who is leading it.

Throughout the process, all our research and findings will be recorded and documented, eventually being turned into either a guide or workshop geared towards how we can open up permanent arts buildings to the learning disabled community and learning disabled artists. More importantly, it will also begin a conversation around having more learning disabled people in leadership roles, with concrete research to be the foundation.

The aim of the High Ground project is to create a highly visible, ambitious community platform, inviting new audiences to engage with disability culture and shifting the conversation towards a more equal and inclusive society.