Helping learning disabled people thrive

Creating Art, Improving Lives

Rowan is a vibrant and active part of the art community in Cambridge working with learning disabled people. We are based on Humberstone Road in Cambridge, and run a number of studios including wood, ceramics, print, textiles and mixed media. We now run regular music and performance workshops. 

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Rowan was set up in 1984 to improve the lives of learning-disabled people through the provision of services and meaningful activities. This was against the background of change that, quite radically at the time, sought to move people out of institutions and into the community.

Very quickly art and crafts were identified as a way of enhancing the lives and providing opportunities for self-expression for this minority group. In order to provide studio space and a secure home for Rowan, the current premises in Humberstone Road was purchased in 1993.

Rowan is a charity with a strong social enterprise ethos, which seeks to enhance the sustainability and future of Rowan for its beneficiaries. We produce work for commissions and for sale at exhibitions and events.

This creative working in small groups with tutors enables Rowan’s students to develop social and communication skills, offering a rounded and stimulating group experience to each individual participant. The active participation in community events and arts activities is also important as a means of connecting directly with our local community and cultural heritage. Meeting people in new and different environments stimulates ideas and discussion as well as being a platform for enabling greater social inclusion.