RCP and Shape win prestigious award for ‘inspired’ exhibition

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and partners, Shape, have won a top award for helping to build a more inclusive world for disabled people, with their ‘challenging’ exhibition of RCP portraits Re-framing disability: portraits from the Royal College of Physicians.

The Ability Media International (AMI) award was presented last night at a glittering ceremony at the world famous London Studios. The packed event was attended by some of the UK Arts industry’s most influential and well respected players – including Downton Abbey actor Dame Maggie Smith, children’s TV pioneer Anna Home and filmmaker Mike Leigh.

The AMI awards, created by Leonard Cheshire Disability in 2009, identify outstanding creative projects that encourage a more inclusive world for disabled people.

Heralded by the international panel of judges as ‘inspired’ and ‘challenging’, Re-framing disability won the ‘Visual Arts Award 2011’. The art exhibition, the result of a partnership between the RCP and disability-led arts organisation Shape, explores rare portraits of disabled people from the 17th to 19th centuries, uncovers their hidden histories, and looks at their impact today through contemporary responses from 27 disabled participants across the UK.

RCP project curator, Bridget Telfer, said:

We are delighted to receive this award in recognition of the exhibition. One of the aims of this project was to reduce the cultural invisibility of disabled people in traditional museum displays and to empower disabled people to take control of their own histories and identities. It is the 27 disabled participants that I really need to thank for all their hard work. Only through their voices and views may we hope - in the words of one participant - to encourage an ‘acceptance and celebration of difference'.

Shape chief executive, Tony Heaton, said:

In a climate of funding cuts and gloom this award is a great vote of confidence for Shape. It confirms the innovation and value we bring to the creative and cultural sector with truly participatory arts projects like Re-framing disability.

Developing partnerships and creating employment opportunities for disabled people from the creative sector is a vital part of what Shape does and our collaboration with the RCP has helped us achieve these important goals.

Re-framing disability was generously supported by the Wellcome Trust People Awards and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) Documentation Improvement Grant.

The exhibition is touring to venues across the UK throughout 2011–12. It is currently on display at the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies until the end of January 2012.

The AMIs support the Ability Media Centre. Set up by Leonard Cheshire Disability, the centre gives disabled and disadvantaged young people the training and skills they need to meet the demands of the media industries.


Ability Media International Awards

The Ability Media International (AMI) Awards recognise and celebrate artistic excellence that promotes a more inclusive world. The awards are run by Leonard Cheshire Disability and supported by a creative board of leading arts and media professionals. Visit the AMI awards website


Shape is a disability-led arts organisation working to improve access to the arts for disabled people. For over 30 years we have been working with cultural organisations, artists and audiences to develop disabled artists’ careers, help organisations become more welcoming to deaf and disabled people, and enable more diverse groups of people to participate in the arts. Shape is based in Camden, north London, and works locally and nationally. Shape is supported by Arts Council England. Visit the Shape website

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