Public arts piece wins prestigious award

Arts centre commended for excellence and innovation in digital accessibility for all.

The Public in West Bromwich has recently been named joint winner of a highly prestigious Jodi Award – an awards programme celebrating widening participation for disabled people in museums, galleries, exhibitions, libraries, archives and other heritage sites. The centre, which closed to the public last week after failing to secure continued funding from Sandwell council, had regularly been hailed as a market leader in this field.

The Jodi Awards are given in memory of Jodi Mattes (1973-2001) – a tireless champion of equal access to culture for disabled people. To mark their tenth anniversary, in 2013 three Public Engagement Awards were given by The Jodi Mattes Trust at a special celebratory event held in Liverpool. These new Awards were for Access Planning and User Involvement, Innovation, and Legacy and Impact.

The Black Country venue, joint winners of the Innovation Award, were commended for their multi-sensory exhibition, Sound Canvas, which uses sensors and digital technology to enable visitors to access art in an innovative way.  A unique audio-visual experience triggered by movement, Sound Canvas was created by Zoe Partington for a project, IN (Disability Arts in the Mainstream), commissioned by The Public and DASH – a leading Disability Arts development organisation.

Robin Urquhart, Trustee and Chair of the Jodi Award judging team, said, “Our panel of expert user testers were extremely impressed by the broad accessibility of the multi-sensory Sound Canvas.” He added, “The Jodi Awards, now in their tenth year, are a benchmark of excellence in inclusivity; and this year’s shortlist, more than any other so far, should make a significant impact on the Culture and Heritage sectors; placing accessible design in the heart of national and local galleries, museums, libraries and archives.”

Paula Dower, General Manager of DASH said, “DASH are delighted to hear that Sound Canvas, by Zoe Partington, has been named joint winner of the Innovation Award.  DASH’s project, IN (Disability Arts in the Mainstream), has been created to give Disabled Artists the support they need to enable them to create great works of art and to work in partnership with galleries to show that work.  DASH would like to thank all the staff of The Public, they have been wonderful supportive partners of the IN project.”

A spokesperson from The Public said, “We’re incredibly privileged to have won such a prestigious award. Sound Canvas was an exciting interactive and engaging addition to the gallery which, since launching in July, was a huge success with all our visitors.”

For more information about the Jodi Awards 2013 visit:

Sound Canvas is due to be rehomed in the Midlands very soon.