Launch of the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive!


The National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA), a £1-million digital archive chronicling the history of disability arts in the UK, launches to the public today.

NDACA is the first archive in the world to offer a major retrospective of disabled people’s art and activism. The Disability Arts Movement – a fascinating story of disabled people forming an exciting disability culture – can now take its place within the diverse landscape of UK cultural heritage.

The Archive and Collection preserves the legacy of disability arts, allowing future generations of disabled people to celebrate the creative and political artefacts of disability. Researchers, heritage professionals and those interested in the UK’s cultural identity will be able to share and study ephemera about disability arts and analyse how the Disability Arts Movement impacted the campaign for disabled people’s civil rights.

Delivered by Shape Arts and built with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as Arts Council England and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, is the home of a digital catalogue of 3,500 images, oral history film interviews, educational resources and animations, articles and much more.

As an open, free-to-use archive, is the central location to discover disability arts history. NDACA has digitised over 3,000 deposits to tell the heritage story of disability arts; this massive collection of disabled artists’ work from 1968 to the present day covers every aspect of their creative and political journeys: extensive photographs, ephemera, theatre stills and t-shirt collections relating to the seminal moments in the struggle for disabled people’s rights. 


Stuart Hobley, Head of HLF London, comments: "I am delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, we’re supporting the first ever cultural archive of disability arts history. NDACA is a major milestone for disability heritage; stories of ordinary people who led extraordinary lives. Challenging and triumphant, we can now all learn about the contribution of the disabled community to the UK's arts and political landscape."

The digitisation of thousands of unique deposits will allow new audiences to comment on disability arts heritage. David Hevey, Shape Arts CEO and Project Director of NDACA, explained: “This Archive tells a powerful heritage story about the Disability Arts Movement. I am proud to have led on a project that has innovatively reinterpreted the great art, culture and story of struggle produced by disabled people and their allies for so many decades.” 

Jocelyn Dodd, Director of the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries, says: "RCMG are delighted that the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive is now publicly available. This vital resource offers opportunities to tackle negative attitudes to 'difference', a goal that lies at the heart of our research at RCMG. This resource will enable museums, galleries and researchers to access untold stories about disabled people's creativity and the oppression they battled against, and will also empower new audiences to discover the ideas and themes of forty years of disability arts history."

A selection of images is available at:

For further information please contact Zoe Partington, NDACA Project Manager, on tel: 020 7424 7322 or 07803 607 008 or via email:


Delivered by Shape Arts, NDACA, the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive, is a £1-million Heritage Lottery Fund project that chronicles the unique history of the UK Disability Arts Movement. The Disability Arts Movement originated with a group of disabled people and their allies who broke down barriers, helped change the law and made great art and culture while doing so. 

NDACA will have a month-long exhibition at City Hall in August 2018. The first City Hall exhibition took place from 16 May until 15 June 2018. 

NDACA’s physical collection will be stored in the Archive’s Repository at Buckinghamshire New University, along with the newly built research facilities opening later this year. The NDACA Learning Wing will be the first ever study space dedicated to disability arts heritage in the UK.

About the Disability Arts Movement

In the 1970s, the lives of disabled people in the United Kingdom were marked by isolation and segregation. The Disability Arts Movement allowed disabled people to develop their creative voice and challenge shared oppression. Disabled artists, activists, forums, exhibitions and festivals contributed to the campaign for disability equality; after the Disability Discrimination Act was passed in 1995, the disability arts scene continued to develop, and flourishes today within a more inclusive arts sector.

About Shape Arts

Shape Arts is a disability-led arts organisation which works to improve access to culture for disabled people by providing opportunities for disabled artists, training cultural institutions to be more open to disabled people, and through running participatory arts and development programmes.

Image credits:

Banner image: Graeae Theatre Company rehearsing in the early 1980s. (NDACA)

'Is This A Cripple Free Zone?': Photograph of the 'Block Telethon' protest outside London Weekend Television (LWT) studios in 1990. (NDACA)