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I can do that!: Mencap's shock art attack.

Byline: Tom Dowling

ALMOST half of people with learning disabilities are denied the chance to get involved in the arts, according to new research.

Mencap's new National Arts Strategy - Doing Showing Going reveals that the barriers to taking part include a fear of not being welcomed, lack of funds, or simply just transport difficulties.

The research among over 1,000 people with a learning disability showed an overwhelming 88% of respondents wanted arts activities that were inclusive. Fewer than a quarter got the chance to work with professional artists.

Published alongside the report is a new More Than Fun video, highlighting dance, drama and art projects - and a new CD, Like a River Flows, produced and arranged by Pete Lewis and Nick Ingman who have worked with top stars including Elton John, Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams.

Jez Colbourne (also known as JC Jamma), a singer, keyboard and harmonica player, who writes and composes his own music, said: ``I've loved this experience. People used to say I'd never be a musician. They said that was for normal people, not disabled people. They said I'd be better off packing boxes in a shop, that there was no place in music for people like me and that's what drove me.''

Gus Garside, Mencap National Arts Co-ordinator, said: ``The arts are the most potent and individual means we have of making sense of ourselves and the world around us. Each piece of art is an expression of who we are. It can be fun but also an expression of anger, fear and frustration as well as joy.

``All the people involved in this video and CD are talented artists who through their commitment and hard work have continued to strengthen their artistic skills - disregarding their disability. We hope they will inspire more and more people with a learning disability to get involved in the arts.''

The CD costs pounds 10; the video, pounds 25. They can be ordered on 020 7696 6979
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 7, 2002
Previous Article:I can do that!: All aboard For people who won't let disability get in their way.
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