Rowan is a Cambridge based arts centre and charity where artists work with learning-disabled students in 5 studios: woodwork, ceramics, mixed media, printmaking and textiles. Since 1984, Rowan’s core aim has been to improve the lives of learning-disabled people through the provision of creative activities. Arts and crafts were identified as a way of enhancing lives and providing opportunities for self-expression and personal development.

We seek to raise the abilities of learning-disabled people, and foster their participation as active and equal citizens both economically and socially, providing the vital ingredients for greater independence. Rowan provides a safe, creative and unique environment where learning-disabled adults can thrive, develop their confidence, self-esteem and grow artistically. We endeavor to provide make life interesting, fulfilling and enjoyable.

Over 70 people with learning disabilities come to Rowan over the course of a week. The charity is open 50 weeks of the year, and students can remain at Rowan for as long as they choose on a part time basis.

Due to student demand we are developing our programme of activity to include music, drama and movement. The combination of visual and performing arts is a powerful tool that raises abilities and enables learning disabled to become more social, confident and creative. It helps them to further engage with the wider life of Rowan and beyond.

Rowan has an excellent reputation and is considered to be a forward-looking organisation, committed to developing new opportunities in partnership with individuals and organisations. We work with a range of partners locally and regionally to offer wider opportunities to our students. This includes going on visits and taking part in a wide range of activities in and out of the studios, such as with the National Trust’s Anglesey Abbey and Wimpole Hall, Cambridge University Botanic Gardens, Cambridge Past Present and Future, Milton Country Park and University of Cambridge Museums (UCM). Students and tutors collaboratively make art for public and private commissions, previous examples include for Amey Cespa, Cambridge City Council, Irwin Mitchell, National Trust properties and Addenbrookes Hospital.

Rowan encourages and develops wide-ranging community participation and engagement projects including taking part in exhibitions around Cambridge including University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas, Chelsea Fringe 2015, Cambridge Open Studios, local community art projects such as Mitcham’s Models.