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Visual Arts

Outside In
16th April 2019
outside in

Laura Miles outlines the work of Outside In, an award-winning charity that provides a platform for artists who face significant barriers.

Outside In was founded in 2006 by Marc Steene at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, West Sussex. Its aim then, as it is now, is to provide a platform for artists who face a significant barrier to the art world due to health, disability, social circumstances or isolation. In 2013 Outside In won the Charity Award for Arts, Culture and Heritage and in 2016 it became an independent charity.

Since its inception, Outside In has engaged with more than 5,000 artists traditionally excluded from the mainstream art world, reached a quarter of a million audience members and gained more than 80 partner organisations nationally.

More than 50 exhibitions have been held to date and Outside In has now proudly got an impressive 2,600 artists signed up to its online galleries and showcasing their work.

As well as providing opportunities for artists to share their work, Outside In has created a programme of professional development Step Up training ranging from interpreting collections to curation.

In the short time since Outside In became an independent charity, it has joined the Arts Council England’s National Portfolio (2017) and established an ambitious plan to create a national platform to support the delivery of its work and to reach more artists.

In the next three years Outside In will work in partnership with key strategic arts organisations across the UK to act as hubs of activity and support to make this possible.

At the same time, Outside In’s ground-breaking projects, exhibitions and opportunities have continued. In 2018 alone, Outside In’s highlights included; an exhibition at Sotheby’s, London, to celebrate its new charitable status, a co-commission of artists’ work in response to Scottie Wilson and the launch of the Vawdrey Archive Project.

The latter, run in partnership with the West Sussex Records Office, is still ongoing and was made possible thanks to a grant from the Wellcome Collection. It involves Outside In artists, who have lived mental health experience, work to help archive nearly 200 pieces of artwork – some of which were created at the West Sussex County Asylum, Graylingwell, Chichester. Last year also saw the Outside In: Discover exhibition at Cerno Capital’s Mayfair offices and the charity showed at Manchester Art Fair.

This year is continuing the momentum. Outside In has been named the official partner for the Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize, announced its first corporate sponsor in Investec and is gearing up for a ground-breaking residency and exhibition project with Bethlem Gallery and CGP London – and that’s just the beginning. There are two national call outs planned, director Marc Steene is curating an exhibition at the Lightbox and new courses are being added to the charity’s professional training Step Up programme.

Signing up to Outside In is free and provides artists with their own online gallery for showcasing their work as well as access to a host of opportunities ranging from training and support to taking part in exhibitions, being featured in the press or selling your work through Outside In’s online shop. Outside In provides a platform for artists who face significant barriers to the art world and, by providing information about the barriers you face, the charity can tailor its support to your needs and interests.

For more information, or to get started, visit the website at For support, or to talk to a member of the team, please call 01273 381311.

 Outside In is currently funded by Arts Council England, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Roddick Foundation, The Schroder Foundation, supported by the George Dannatt Trust and sponsored by Investec.