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about ndaca - National Disability Arts Collection & Archive

National Disability Arts Collection & Archive

> About NDACA

13 April 2013

Read more about: Recent History Board

The National Disability Arts Collection and Archive


NDACA will bring to life the heritage and rich history of the Disability Arts Movement. Led by disabled people and disability arts organisations all over the UK, it will provide an important resource for disabled people to realise their own heritage and bring non-disabled people closer to the struggles that they have been faced with over the last 30 years.

Through an interactive website and catalogue, the collection will be preserved and made accessible to artists, academics and the general public.  Lost or hidden works will also be identified and brought into the public realm. This will be supported by a dispersed physical collection, which will tour and exhibit at partner’s own premises and in museums and galleries all across the UK. The project will seek to educate and engage local communities with the heritage of the Disability Arts Movement through a series of learning and participation activities working with volunteers, schools, universities and museums.


A colour image of a sculpture made from wheelchair parts that defines the map of great britain

Great Britain from a Wheelchair by Tony Heaton which is currently housed in the foyer of Graeae.

NDACA CIC coordinates the NDACA Network which comprises a number of organisations working in partnership. These include Buckinghamshire New University; Dada; Disability Arts Online; filmpro; Graeae Theatre Company; Holton Lee; The Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG); Shape and Zinc. The partnership brings together expertise in disability arts, heritage, education, theatre, community arts, moving image and web development.

Key Partners will include disability arts organisations, universities, galleries and museums and other arts, heritage, community and education organisations. Key Partners will operate in a network coordinated by NDACA CIC and will have a role in contributing to the management and policies of NDACA CIC and the Network.

Recent History

Colour photograph of a road sign showing two black hands signing, with the words 'Warning People using sing language ahead'

Part of The Way Ahead Exhibition by Caroline Cardus

NDACA Co-op was established in March 2011, formed after a daylong consultation with key artists and contributors to Disability Arts, to continue the work done by the steering group of disabled artists and creatives. 

Those creative’s were originally drawn together a decade previously to discuss and support Holton Lee in a plan to house the NDACA within a purpose-built building. The plans have evolved and this will no longer be built but we are still committed to bringing to life the collection and archive with the materials loaned through the forming of a cooperative to manage and grow this initiative. Together they will disperse to partners the collection and archive for exhibition, study and protection.  Items will be continually purchased by, loaned or donated to the collection. An interactive online archive will also be developed and maintained with updates and additions.

Funds were raised by donations in order progress the vision and incorporate as NDACA CIC. NDACA Co-op became a Community Interest Company in April 2012 - NDACA CIC.

During 2012 a series of nine Partnership Agreements were signed between each of the founding partners and NDACA CIC.


Office for Disability Issues Logo

In August 2012 NDACA CIC was awarded a £10,000 grant by the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) towards organisational development.

HLF Logo

NDACA CIC recognised that as a newly formed organisation it would need backing from a well-established partner to be seriously considered for support by funders. Shape agreed to fulfill the role and submitted a first stage application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which was successful in early 2013. For the latest developments on NDACA please check the homepage.


Simon Fulford is a charity professional, an award-winning photographer and educator whose work is rooted in a belief of empowering under-served communities in innovative ways. In  2005 he project managed the launch of the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive for Holton Lee before joining The Prince’s Trust where he spent 3+ years as a Regional Director. Simon is currently Chief Executive of Khulisa, an innovative UK violence and crime-reduction charity drawing on the extensive experience of its sister organisation on South Africa.   Simon is also a Trustee for Shape and the Midi Music Company.

Sian Williams worked for many years in the disability arts sector before joining Arts Council England as a diversity officer.  She has also worked in local government.  Currently she works for SENDPO (the South East Network of Disabled People’s Organisations) and has just completed an MSc in Voluntary Sector Management at Cass Business School.

Hayley Davies
With a background in IT and website design , began working in the arts sector at Holton Lee in 2006 as an Arts/Archive Assistant which included archiving Disability Arts artwork and material some of which will hopefully become part of NDACA where I am now secretary. Since then as well as being involved with Link Up Arts, I have worked and volunteered with several different organisations including Disability Arts Online, Shape and The National Archives.  

Allan Sutherland, a former Chair of the London Disability Arts Forum, is a writer, performer, journalist and disability consultant.  He is Director of the Edward Lear Foundation, a Disability Arts think-tank.  He researched and created ‘A Chronology of Disability Arts’, the key working document for the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA) and anyone else researching the history of Disability Arts. Allan has been arguing for the creation of a national collection of disability arts for the last 20 years. His thinking, and in particular his proposal for a ‘dispersed archive’ has been a key influence on the formation of NDACA

David Bower is a Director/ film-artist/ Dance Artist/ Actor.  He studied the newly created art form Signdance as an apprentice performer at Common Ground Sign Dance Theatre He has toured extensively performing at major street theatre festivals and theatre festivals.  He makes   films at the Signdance Collective,  including 'But Beautiful 'Secret Signs  and Relics'.   Radio work includes Quasimodo, 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame', BBC Radio Four, 'Shall I say a Kiss', BBC Radio Four, 'Dragonfly', BBC Radio Four, and 'A Small Piece of Silence' and in July he records the radio version of Bad Elvis with the BBC. David is an associate lecturer for theatre at Buckinghamshire New University.

Cuban-born  Isolte Avila trained with the Cuban Ballet and members of Alvyn Ailey Dance Company. Recently she has been working alongside BBC Radio 4 as associate artist on A Small Piece of Silence, and Dragonfly directed by Sue Roberts. She is the founder of the art-form signdance, managing and developing the signdance trust through from 1987 – 2001, in 2001 she formed SDCI with actor David Bower. Isolte has managed SDC's work since 1987 successfully touring the company internationally, working in-association with international  organizations and artists. Isolte is an associate lecturer for theatre at Buckinghamshire New University

Matthew Fessey
With a background in IT for a broad range of clients and degree in the arts, Matthew founded CoQuo Ltd, a company to better cater for the arts, disability and charity sectors by combining a passion for both areas of expertise. Matthew studied Cybernetics and Control Engineering at Reading University before switching to IT where he joined NYBS Ltd for five years.  Matthew subsequently studied Photography and Fine Art at the University of Falmouth before setting up CoQuo Ltd in 2011.

Nicola Waddington has worked professionally as an archivist for the last 12 years. Her career has focussed predominantly on developing new archives, community archives development and projects funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Tony Crosby spend 30 years in local authority social services, starting as a trainee Residential Social Worker and ending up an Assistant Director / Head of Health & Disability Services. Tony spent over ten years at the Heritage Lottery Fund where he was a Policy Advisor specialising in disabled people’s access to heritage and culture.  Tony worked with such disabled people’s organisations as RNIB, Mencap, Action on Hearing Loss (RNID), and the Centre for Accessible Environments as well as heritage organisations like English Heritage, National Trust and Natural England.  Latterly the role developed into encouraging disabled people’s organisations to explore their own heritage.  Tony retired from HLF in 2013, joining the Board of NDACA CIC shortly thereafter.