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Sense Scotland’s new integrated centre

The building
Arts resources
Visual arts & community resources
Potential developments
TouchBase building; Photo: Andrew Crossan


This new multi-million pound building is an innovative and fully accessible community resource for disabled people, carers, families and the local community. TouchBase facilities and services include a day centre base for children and families, drop-in resources for adults, music, visual and performing arts spaces and a community café, due to launch later this year.

'We envisage TouchBase as a series of spaces where artists, local communities, disabled and non-disabled people can participate in and experience accessible and high quality arts and music.'

Kevin Harrison, Arts and Wellbeing Manager


In December 2003, Sense Scotland bought a building in Kinning Park, Glasgow. Requiring complete refurbishment, the 27,000 sq ft warehouse and office block is now Sense Scotland’s first combined centre, housing child and adult day services, head office functions, and community resources.

For more than ten years, Sense Scotland has integrated the arts into the portfolio of services and activities it offers, having recognised the creative potential of the arts.

Drumming boy; Photo: Andrew Crossan This work has grown significantly to include an outdoor activities programme and six dedicated arts practitioners, who now provide a variety of individual and group sessions and projects across the range of visual and performing arts, crafts and music.

This has been reflected in TouchBase, which has a high focus on the arts making it one of the largest disability arts centres in Scotland.

The building

TouchBase marks a shift in thinking about the importance of the arts and culture in the lives of disabled people in Scotland. 

TouchBase building; Photo: Andrew Crossan

This development includes significant investment in arts and cultural activity as an integral part of the daily lives of disabled children and adults, similarly promoting the talents and creativity of disabled people through the promotion of art through exhibition and performances in the courtyard area of the building, an area open for public and community access centred around a cafe.

TouchBase is located within an area that is prospering. Situated close to the River Clyde which has undergone rapid regeneration and revitalisation over the past 10 years. This regeneration project has seen an increase in job opportunities within Glasgow, new homes have been built creating new neighbourhoods on the Clyde which is sustaining and reinvigorating older riverside communities. The BBC and STV HQ have also relocated their offices to the Clyde area indicating that this is an area full of opportunities. The area has excellent transport links, close to motorway and underground links and free parking for staff, services users and visitors.

Arts resources

Group and singer; Photo: Andrew Crossan At the heart of the building is a large courtyard and café, which will be open to the public. This area will also be used for events and exhibitions. Facing the courtyard is the music suite which consists of a large music room, small music room, recording studio and video editing room.

The visual arts suite has two large art and craft studios with full height ceilings and lots of natural light flooding in through the roof windows. A drama room with sprung floor and woodwork room complete the arts suite.

All the suites have been designed to a high specification including natural light, sound proofing, air conditioning and adjustable heating and lighting. A community suite also contains offices and studio space for rental by artists or groups. Woodcraft session with two service users; Photo: Andrew Crossan

TouchBase building; Photo: Andrew Crossan

Additional facilities include sensory rooms, computer room, personal care suites and training rooms. The building is fully accessible for people with sensory, physical and learning disabilities.

'TouchBase will add another dimension to the children’s experiences and we will be able to develop a wider range of services for families.'

Jayne Laidlaw, Manager of Children and Families Support Services

Visual arts and community resources

The Scottish Arts Council has supported the development of this unique resource with capital grant funding to develop visual arts spaces and a series of community arts and office suites. Sense Scotland has a long history of using and supporting visual arts activity, most prominently recognised through the Helen Keller International Award, a multi-disciplinary arts competition run every two years whose brief is to challenge perceptions of deafblindness. The work is judged anonymously by a panel of expert judges and is open to disabled and non-disabled, professional and amateur artists.

Children's art session in visual arts suite; Photo: Andrew Crossan

It speaks much of the talents of the many artists Sense Scotland supports that the winner of seventh Helen Keller International Award was Yvonne Larkin, an individual supported by the organisation. Others have bee runners up and commended in the past, like Lewis Scott who secured professional development funding from the Scottish Arts Council a few years previously to undertake training overseas in bronze casting and whose 'Wee Man' was very succesful in the competition. Other recent exhibitions of Sense Scotland artists' work have been in the Burrell Collection and LUV Gallery in Govan.

Children's art session in visual arts suite; Photo: Andrew Crossan Visual Arts practitioner Gayle Calderwood has worked to support the creative development of the individuals she supports based on their individual needs. This can range from working on a one to one basis using the creative process to develop communication, or working in partnership with other organisations to create professional development programmes in specific mediums. Gayle is able to develop new and exciting ways of working using the new resources available to her.

'Sense Scotland's arts programmes do not operate in isolation. Focussing on access to galleries and museums, groups have explored the Burrell Collection and the Hunterian Art Gallery and Museum, working in partnership to share practice on access to these fascinating spaces and using visual arts projects to stimulate and explore the collections. A corporate art lending scheme has been piloted very successfully with Kerr and Co, a Glasgow based legal firm. 

Individuals have been developing art works for show and sale in office spaces. Another Sense Scotland artist has been working alongside an artist in Glasgow Sculpture Studios learning techniques involved in stone carving. Likewise, other groups and organiations have come to Sense Scotland for support, who have hosted, for example, part of Ethnic Enable's summer programme for black minority ethnic disabled children and their siblings.'

Gayle Calderwood, Visual Arts Practitioner

Potential developments

The new arts suite offers a wealth of opportunities for development of arts activities and partnership working. For the first time music and arts workshops are available to both children and adults. Sense Scotland hope to develop a performance and exhibition programme that will meet the needs of disabled audiences and that will inspire partnership and participation. With improved art facilities more group work and interactive workshops can be delivered.

Current projects that will run from TouchBase include the Scottish Arts Council funded 'Threads', exploring cultural identity and diversity for minority ethnic disabled people; Getting Together, a three year Active Futures funded outdoor activities programme and a series of partnership projects exploring public art and museums and galleries. Community groups have already begun accessing the arts suite for visual art and drama workshops.

Over the past few years, visual arts in the west has been hosted with day service for adults. As demand has grown, so more services around Glasgow have come to the services for sessions. Demand has increased but constraints on space and access have made further development challenging. Children have not been able to access the art room. With TouchBase this has all changed. Chinese lantern group; Photo: Andrew Crossan

TouchBase is able to contribute to the cultural regeneration of the area, through close community links with the Greater Govan Creative Network, diverse partnerships with organisations such as Pan African Arts Scotland, the Ricefield Art Gallery promoting Chinese culture and Scottish Academy of Asian Arts, Sense Scotland is able to offer a fully inclusive arts programme that celebrates the diversity of its Glasgow and West of Scotland audience.

TouchBase building; Photo: Andrew Crossan For the first time there will be a dedicated and professional exhibition space, opportunities for showing film, performances and the chance for disabled people to choose to come and develop work on their own through an open studios scheme and as part of peer groups.

The inclusion of community arts and office suites in the TouchBase development recognises the importance of partnership working in the lives of the people supported by Sense Scotland, in creating new opportunities, challenging perceptions and in including disabled people in the everyday life of the city. The six suites present opportunities for collaboration, conversation and joint-working. They will turn TouchBase from being a charities headquarters and flagship resource, into being the cultural centre of a community.


TouchBase has been made possible with £1.8 million funding from a range of funders including a Scottish Arts Council lottery grant of £97,614 toward the visual arts suite and community suite. Other major funders include BBC Children in Need, European Union, Futurebuilders Scotland, Big Lottery Fund, a range of trusts and individuals and Sense Scotland’s own contribution.

* ArtFull
* Big Lottery Fund
* The Burrell Collection
* BBC Children in Need
* Linthouse Urban Village
* Pan African Arts Scotland
* Ricefield Art Gallery
* Scottish Academy of Asian Arts
* Sense Scotland
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