Arts Access Post Lockdown Vintage Club

Arts Access was very excited last month to host our first Vintage Club outing since March 2020.

With restrictions in Scotland lifting, Arts Access was keen to invite our Vintage Club members to an outdoor event which did not feel too crowded or busy, but which fulfilled the aims of a successful Vintage Club event – a chance to socialise while doing something new.

We decided to team up with Lissa from Joy Rides Edinburgh to offer Vintage Clubbers a trip round the Meadows on Betsy – a customised electric trishaw which takes two passengers. We had worked with Lissa to offer individual outings during the summer, and these had gone so well we wanted more people to have the chance to enjoy a stylish breath of fresh air.

Members of the Vintage Club were invited to book a time slot to take part in the day, and all eight spaces quickly booked up – lots of pedalling for Lissa!

We used Soderberg Pavilion Café on the Quartermile as our base, and offered cake and coffee to the members and the volunteers who brought them. It was brilliant to see volunteers in action again, and to meet up with people face to face.

The day was a great success, and sun even came out for us!

We’re gradually opening up, and offering more bookings and outings to Arts Access members, as well as more volunteering opportunities. Email us for more information.


Arts Access During Covid-19 2020

Client and Storyteller Socially Distanced in Garden

Artlink’s Arts Access service has been running for over 35 years, helping people who need support to go out to arts events with a volunteer driver/companion.

The great thing about Arts Access is its variety and flexibility. Our 200 clients range in age from their early 20s to over 100. People live in many different situations, some with families, some alone, others in supported accommodation, care homes, and hospitals. Over 100 volunteers come from all walks of life, from artists and archaeologists to physiotherapists, doctors and IT specialists. What unites us all is our love of going out together, and enjoying all kinds of arts events, including live performances, cultural talks, musicals, exhibitions, concerts and films.

The Covid-19 crisis has been difficult for Arts Access. Theatres and venues have been closed, and performances have been cancelled and rescheduled far into 2021. Many of our clients are shielding or have health conditions which make them particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, and others require physical support – perhaps an arm for guiding or balance – which social distancing guidelines prohibits. While online cultural content has blossomed, many of the people we work with don’t have internet access.

Working with the Scottish Storytelling Centre this summer, we arranged socially distanced storytelling.

Client and Storyteller Close Up

Storytellers were matched to people based on their interests and experiences, and we travelled to Sweden and Kenya while dodging the drizzle in our Edinburgh gardens. Being together and having this face to face contact was so cheering and positive, that we are planning to offer more of these sessions during the Scottish International Storytelling Festival in October.

Volunteers have been staying in touch with our clients with regular phone calls, maintaining relationships which have been nurtured over the years. We want to try to harness this resource of goodwill and communication, and plan to gather stories about past outings, and what Arts Access means to people. We hope that collating these stories will highlight the importance and longevity of the project, and help us to feel optimistic about what the future will bring.

NMS and Ratho Rock Art Outing

Arts Access Rock Rings

Visually impaired Arts Access users found out more about prehistoric rock art this summer, with a hands-on visit to explore the collection at the National Museum of Scotland, followed by a field trip to discover ancient cup and ring marks on Tormain Hill outside Ratho. Arts Access volunteer and archaeologist Tertia Barnett, and Alison Sheridan, curator at the National Museum of Scotland, were on hand to share their expertise and to answer questions. Sound artist Gavin Fort made a recording of the trip.

Download the audio here. 

Support Us

descriptive Jupiter Artland (2)

It is a quick and easy way to support our Arts Access service which provides opportunities for  disabled people to enjoy the arts. A relatively small donation can make a big difference!

£5 pays for return transport.

£10 helps towards a theatre ticket.

Thank you!

For more information about Gift Aid and the Small Print look here.

Arts Access

Rock RingsJoining Artlink has been one of the most enjoyable and important things I have done in a long time. Outings to the theatre, cinema, Edinburgh festivals or some of the many other events taking place around Edinburgh has now become possible for me, making my life so much more exciting.”

The Arts Access service creates links between people who want to discover and enjoy the arts in Edinburgh. Our members go to a wide variety of events at theatres, galleries, museums, cinemas, historic buildings, sculpture parks… We do our best to ensure that the trickiest part of an Arts Access outing is choosing where to go. We provide ‘What’s On’ information to help with decision making, and then we book tickets, match members with volunteers who would like to accompany them and organise transport. It’s a door to door service, and it is important to us that both volunteers and members enjoy their experience.

I have been a volunteer with Artlink after returning to live in Edinburgh at the end of 2010. My time commitment varies but I aim to attend an average of two or three events a month, fitted around other voluntary work and social activities. I’m pleased to provide transport and/or support as needed, in return for the company of interesting people, free entry to art exhibitions, plays, music and other events, including an opportunity to sing at an ‘Abba’ tribute concert!”

We also work with our members to improve access to the arts based on real life experiences and create opportunities for audiences and artists to collaborate in developing imaginative access solutions. Our partnerships with venues ensure ideas are put into practice and shared to make a real difference: “For me, it’s very important to have the chance to participate in a contributing way and that people will listen. I’ve had worthwhile, interesting, engaging experiences that have made me stop and think. At the end of the day the artists produced excellent work and the ideas reflect all of us and it’s kind of fun.

To download a membership application or volunteer application go to the Download Forms page.

For more information about the Arts Access service contact

A Playful Wander (with a choice of drinks)

Friday 18th July 2pm and 3.30pm

Join a performance created at Greyfriars Churchyard and Sandy Bells pub on Forrest Road. Using the climate, sounds, smells and landscape of the Churchyard and the very different environment, smells and tastes available in Sandy Bells pub, Poorboy Theatre will create a short, immersive work for sighted, partially sighted and blind participants.

Using Poorboy’s trademark site-specific way of working, the performance will use music and song, spoken word performance, smells and tastes to create a short performance based on the tradition of pub stories – true and false.

Artistic Director Sandy Thomson and Associate Director Jeremiah Reynolds have spent the last few years creating work together. This has included the critically acclaimed Pirates & Mermaids – a site specific spoken word performance with music performed in the garden of the Scottish Storytelling Centre. The show was nominated for the prestigious Stage Award for Best Solo Performance last year.

This event is part of Artlink’s Opening Lines, combining description, history and storytelling in response to locations across Edinburgh, creating events for sighted and non sighted audiences.

For more information and to book a place contact or phone 0131 229 3555.


Bench image on porty prom

Bench image on porty prom

Our new story Drift is now available to listen to on the Investigate Create website.

Drift weaves together stories from generations of women with connections to Portobello Prom across their lives. It was created collaboratively by visual artist and experienced audio describer Juliana Capes and writer/performer Laura Cameron Lewis, it was recorded by Hamish Brown.

To research the story, Juliana and Laura collected stories from local residents and project participants. Before recording, the work was performed live at the Dalriada and a promenade performance is now being planned for the summer.

Drift is part of the project Opening Lines which combines description, history and storytelling in response to locations across Edinburgh, creating events for sighted and non sighted audiences. Opening Lines events take place all over Edinburgh, visit the website to find out about past and future events.

Investigate Create: website launch 11 June 2014

Artlink is launching a new website, Investigate Create, providing information to open up the arts for people with sight loss, people with hearing loss and sign language users.

Investigate Create launches on 11 June with an event in the Great Hall of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, featuring live music and work developed as part of the Opening Lines project. Poet Ken Cockburn and artist Julianna Capes will perform poetry and verbal description.

For thirty years, Artlink has been offering support and assistance to people with disabilities who want to enjoy Edinburgh’s vibrant and diverse arts scene. With 200 clients and over 100 volunteers, what is now known as the Arts Access service arranges over 1000 outings a year. The aim of Arts Access has always been to make each outing as enjoyable and hassle free as possible, and to make sure that nobody’s enjoyment is restricted by their particular needs.

Feedback from individual outings has helped Artlink to find out what works and what doesn’t, as well as raising awareness of the demand for improvements and innovations. At the same time, Artlink’s work with galleries to deliver accessible tours for people with hearing loss, and for people who are visually impaired, has introduced them to people whose ideas and opinions demonstrate that there is enthusiastic interest in taking part in a whole new experience of art. Rather than adding on access aids to existing work, why not develop work with access at the heart of it?

Arts Access

The resulting projects, Opening Lines (for people with visual impairment) and Let Loose (for people who are hard of hearing), have brought participants together with professional artists to develop unique and original artworks which can be fully enjoyed and experienced by a wider audience.

The Investigate Create website, which launches in June, aims to spread the word about this ongoing programme of innovative projects, events, and workshops. There are features on events, people and places of interest, and up to date, easy to use listings for accessible events in Edinburgh, which can be tailored to individual preferences.

The listings go beyond the usual categories for accessible performances. Investigate Create aims to enthuse and encourage new audiences into trying out different types of events, in different venues, and to increase confidence by including practical information to make booking and attending as easy as possible.

Below is a small taster of what you might find on the new site. Inspired by the National Library of Scotland and written and produced by Ken Cockburn.

A transcript of the audio is available here.

Some Bat-squeak Echo of Other Time

Saturday 26 April 2.30pm – 4.00pm
National Library of Scotland

Some Bat-squeak Echo of Other Time: a tour guided by fiction. Created by Ken Cockburn as the culmination of an Artlink project with the National Library of Scotland. The project considered the library as both a building and a collection. Within the collection are descriptions of fictional buildings, which have only ever existed in the imagination.

This performance will lead you on a journey through the National Library of Scotland weaving together fictions, description and music. Ken Cockburn’s explorations of the building together with staff and Artlink participants, has resulted in this rich and unexpected way to experience the library and its spaces.

This is a free event as part of Artlink’s Opening Lines which mixes description, history and storytelling in response to locations across Edinburgh, creating events for sighted and non sighted audiences.

For more info or to join the event, please contact: Susan Humble or call 0131 229 3555.

Call for Artist Proposal

National Library of Scotland LogoArtlink and the National Library of Scotland are seeking an artist for an Investigative Placement exploring unexpected and diverse experiences of the library’s spaces. The placement will playfully explore descriptive language to create a response that acknowledges and offers diverse experiences of the library with sighted and partially sighted participants. The Investigative Placement will take place between January and April 2014.

The deadline for receiving proposal is 5pm, 6th of December 2013.

You can download background information to the placement here.

For further information contact

Word Games

Susan Humble, Artlink’s Audience Development Officer has recently been collaborating with individuals with sensory impairments and artists to explore the creative potential of access tools such as audio description or captioning.

The Word Games started to explore captioning with individuals with hearing loss. Rather than thinking about captions at the end of a production – something added on, the idea is to turn this around and use text throughout a collaborative process. Artist Anthony Schrag led workshops which encouraged people to play with text and work closely together.  This started with card games building up to finger poems and finally large scale body poems with everyone working together. One of the participants told us: “We had fun surely – but more than that, we enjoyed interacting with the words, with each other and our confidence grew. I think our brains were freed up from struggling with the communication so we could relax into the buzz of creativity….. We could be silly without feeling stupid. Liberating stuff!”

The Word Games workshops are part of Investigate | Create, a three year project supported by the Robertson Trusts, Creative Scotland and other funders to explore the creative potential of functional access tools through collaboration between artists and audiences. For more information about this work please visit the Investigate | Create blog or contact Susan Humble