January 9th 2023

The National Paralympic Heritage Trust (NPHT) has pledged to continue to develop and share its expertise of disability access in heritage following its recent Arts Council England (ACE) funding announcement.

Over the next three years, NPHT has pledged to work with and support museums, venues and event organisers across three south-east communities, which have a rich Paralympic and/or disability sports history, and share their expertise of disability access in heritage.  The three communities are Buckinghamshire, the birthplace of the Paralympics, East London linking to Paris Paralympics 2024 and Hampshire, birthplace of the Winter Paralympics. NPHT hope the outcome of the work will create models of best practice which are shared across the heritage sector and develop networks with these organisations. 

Set up in 2015 to protect and share British Paralympic heritage, NPHT has been leading the march for ensuring access to all in the heritage sector. This includes developing an accessible accredited museum at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Buckinghamshire, which celebrates Paralympic history, with a specific focus on visitors with severe sensory needs. As well as developing a cutting-edge learning programme and leading the way in digital accessible engagement in the sector.

National Paralympic Heritage Trust Chair, Nigel Purse, said:

We are honoured to have been offered this grant, and see it as a reflection of achievement over the first six years of our operational existence, delivering an accessible accredited museum and learning programme in collaboration with the many disability communities with whom we work. As a relatively new organisation, formed in 2015, this is a huge boost, enabling us to continue with our ground-breaking work, focusing on access for people with severe sensory needs and ensuring that our work is delivered by a diverse team including paid traineeships. As one of 276 new organisations to receive ACE funding, which will contribute to Levelling Up for Culture Places across the UK, we shall use it in a way that invests for the future and builds greater diversity within the heritage sector as well as our own organisation. This work will boost spending in heritage in many areas where investment is currently low and enable quality cultural work that has a real social impact.

CEO of the National Paralympic Heritage Trust, Victoria Hope-Walker said:

Inclusion sits at the heart of our organisation, and we know that everyone experiences the world differently. That’s why our work is so vital, this funding will enable heritage organisations to develop the resources and skills to become more inclusive to audiences with sensory needs. We will now work to dig deeper, experiment further and push the boundaries of inclusivity across the heritage sector, supporting other small-scale organisations who may lack space, time and funding, and in doing so we shall uncover more Paralympic sporting histories and build audiences.

Thanks to the ACE funding, NPHT will work with organisations across three regions to develop digital toolkits which dispel myths about neurodivergence. This will enable the integration and inclusion of more children and young people with sensory needs into heritage organisations. As well as recruiting more neurodivergent staff, providing them with an environment which is inclusive to them, and enabling them to develop specific skills in curation and exhibition management. 

The ACE funding will also be used to further develop NPHT’s digital resources, expanding on the use of virtual exhibitions. These virtual resources help audiences who are unable to attend feel included and allow visitors with sensory needs to prepare for their visits. In turn, this would attract more visitors with disabilities to engage with museums. Through creating models of best practice, NPHT hopes to develop cultural sensory needs networks where this knowledge is shared more widely.

See more on Arts Council England’s 2023-26 Investment Programme on their website: www.artscouncil.org.uk/investment23 

About National Paralympic Heritage Trust

The Trust was formed in 2015 to cherish and share Paralympic heritage and in doing so to break down negative attitudes towards disability. In its first six years of operating, they have delivered an accessible accredited museum at Stoke Mandeville Stadium the birthplace of the Paralympics, developed a cutting edge learning programme and led the way in digital accessible engagement.

About Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision. www.artscouncil.org.uk  

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of the bodies responsible for administering the Government’s unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund, of which we delivered over £1 billion to the sector in grants and loans. Find out more at www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19

The Arts Council England funding announcement is available to view here: https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/news/bringing-creativity-and-culture-your-doorstep