National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA) coming to Bucks New University


The National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA) is putting the finishing touches to a digital repository of its items in a series of open-house sessions at Buckinghamshire New University from 10-18 October. The events come ahead of the opening in April of an NDACA learning wing of digital and physical items, in Bucks New University’s library, part of a £1 million project. NDACA has worked on the design  of the wing with Klaudia Sawicka, who is studying BA (Hons) Interior and Spatial Design at the University.

NDACA Display at Bucks New University

A previous NDACA display at Bucks New University.

The ‘digitising sessions’ at Bucks New University will be led by NDACA’s archivist, Alex Cowan, who has worked on the BBC series The Disabled Century, photographer Rah Petherbridge, and NDACA’s Production Assistant Nina Thomas.

Items being ‘digitised’ include NDACA’s series of protest t-shirts worn by disabled activists and artists in the 1980s and 1990s when they took their fight for equal rights and access to the streets of Westminster. Other items will include artwork by the late disabled artist Adam Reynolds, transcripts from forums and debates, and costumes from the BBC actress Liz Carr.

The overall NDACA project, overseen by disability arts organisation Shape Arts, will bring together 2,500 objects celebrating the history of the Disability Arts Movement on a website and through a series of films, as well as live events, and the learning wing at Bucks New University.

David Hevey, CEO of Shape Arts, said:

“It’s fantastic that Bucks New University is able to host the last archiving session before the website goes live to the public in April. Students and staff members alike will be able to see first-hand a selection of deposits from the ‘golden age’ of the disability arts movement  and, under the safe guidance of the NDACA project team, learn how a physical archive becomes digital.”

The sessions will be held in The Gallery at the University in Queen Alexandra Road, High Wycombe, from 11am-4pm from 10-14 October and from 11am-4pm from 16-18 October.

The disability arts movement began in the UK in the late 1970s and continues to the present day. It is the heritage story of a group of disabled people and their allies who broke barriers, helped change the law and made great art and culture along that journey.

The NDACA project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and is facilitated by Shape Arts and Bucks New University.

Frazer Mackenzie, Head of School for Arts & Creative Industries at Bucks New University, said:

“Bucks New University is proud to be working with NDACA and to be hosting the Archive. As a University with a passion and commitment to believing that art and creativity should be open to all, the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive embodies this ethos and provides a fantastic platform for showcasing the creative talent of disabled people from across the whole spectrum of the arts and creative industries.”

A previous ‘digitising session’ was held at Bucks New University earlier this year.