Affiliation with Shape: Allan has been a prominent figure in the success of the National Disability Arts Archive and Collection (NDACA), a project delivered by Shape, as well as being supported by the programme.


Allan Sutherland is a disabled comedian, poet, and writer. He has written and performed extensively on the subject of disability for over thirty years, using art as a vehicle through which to explore his own experiences of living with epilepsy. In 1998, Allan’s discussion paper, ‘Footprints in the Sand’, argued that it was essential to preserve disability arts for the future. As founder of the Edward Lear Institute, a disability arts think tank, Allan compiled a ‘Chronology of Disability Arts’ in 2003, which was an indispensable resource throughout the development of NDACA.

Allan has written many publications, but is perhaps best known for his award-winning book, ‘Disabled We Stand’ (1981), a classic text of the movement which sheds light on the lived experiences of disabled people and discusses personal politics. The politics of disability has been influential in all aspects of his life and work; for example, in 1989 Allan published an open letter in DAIL magazine criticising the Arts Council’s application for exemption from the employment quota.