Access to Work: A Guide for the Arts and Cultural Sector

A beginners guide to Access to Work specific to the arts and culture sector

Listen to this page:

What is Access to Work?

Access to Work is a Department for Work and Pensions resource that helps to create a more accessible work environment. It provides grants to remove barriers that disabled people face in undertaking paid employment.

Disability Arts Online, in partnership with Cathy Waller Company, has written this guide to interpret the Access to Work rules and official guidance with specific advice for the arts and cultural sector.

There are many different types of work within the sector, artists and creatives tend to be self-employed and those working for organisations are usually employees.

That’s why this guide has three main sections:

The guide also contains:

Group of disabled people in procession performance
Graeae Theatre Company. This Is Not For You. Photo by Dawn McNamara


Each section of the guide includes accessible versions. You can also access these separately here and in the resources section.

Symbol indicating video camera, closed captions and sign language

Summary video (BSL & captions)

Download symbol with arrow pointing down

Downloadable pdf and docx files

As with the rest of the website, a high contrast mode can be applied to the guide by clicking the high contrast button in the uppermost top right section of every page.

For the purpose of this guide, following the social model, we use the terms ‘disabled people’ and ‘disability’ to include anyone with any impairment type or long-term health condition who faces barriers. For the avoidance of doubt this includes D/deaf people, people who experience mental ill-health and people identifying as neurodivergent.

This Guide to Access to Work for the Arts and Cultural Sector was funded by Arts Council England, and fact-checked by the Department for Work and Pensions and Arts Council England in June 2019. The Guide was updated in full in March 2024 with further support from Arts Council England.