This page explains the context for our work and the ideas and principles that guide our decisions. To find out more about the history of Shape Arts and the Disability Arts movement, head to Our History page. Alternatively, to explore how these ideas influence our programme practically, read about the work we're currently doing.

In 1976, Shape was founded by Gina Levete MBE with the purpose of introducing creative opportunities for pockets of the community where there was little or no opportunity to participate in the artistic life of the country. Today, Shape works nationally and internationally to champion disabled artists, advocate for accessibility across culture, and innovate around inclusive practice and audience engagement. The way we look has changed a lot in the last fifty years, but our fundamental ambitions and core principles have not:

Philosophy Our founding principle is that all disabled people should have the opportunity to participate fully in arts and culture
Vision An inspiring and inclusive arts sector, accessible to all
Mission To promote great art and inclusive practices, knowledge, and learning, ensuring disabled people have active and influential roles in the industry - as leaders, artists, participants, and audiences


These values inform and drive our Strategic Plans.

All of our work is directly influenced by both our history as an organisation intimately connected to the Disability Arts and Rights Movements and by our commitment to the Social Model of Disability.

Find out more about the Social Model of Disability