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> > > News: AMIs 2011: Royal College of Physicians and Shape win prestigious award for ‘inspired’ exhibition
photo of male wheelchair user and seated woman at the AMI awards ceremony

Tony Heaton, CEO Shape, and Lisa Berger, Chief Operating Officer for the National Theatre.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and partners, Shape, have won a top award for helping to build a more inclusive world for disabled people, with their ‘challenging’ exhibition of RCP portraits Re-framing disability: portraits from the Royal College of Physicians.

The Ability Media International (AMI) award was presented on Sunday November 20th at a glittering ceremony at the world famous London Studios. The packed event was attended by some of the UK Arts industry’s most influential and well respected players – including Downton Abbey actor Dame Maggie Smith, children’s TV pioneer Anna Home and film-maker Mike Leigh.

The AMI awards, created by Leonard Cheshire Disability in 2009, identify outstanding creative projects that encourage a more inclusive world for disabled people.

Heralded by the international panel of judges as ‘inspired’ and ‘challenging’, Re-framing disability won the ‘Visual Arts Award 2011’. The art exhibition, the result of a partnership between the RCP and disability-led arts organisation Shape, explores rare portraits of disabled people from the 17th to 19th centuries, uncovers their hidden histories, and looks at their impact today through contemporary responses from 27 disabled participants across the UK.

Royal College of Art Rector, Dr Paul Thompson, presented the award to RCP project curator, Bridget Telfer and Shape Chief Executive, Tony Heaton. Bridget commented: "We are delighted to receive this award in recognition of the exhibition. One of the aims of this project was to reduce the cultural invisibility of disabled people in traditional museum displays and to empower disabled people to take control of their own histories and identities. It is the 27 disabled participants that I really need to thank for all their hard work. Only through their voices and views may we hope - in the words of one participant - to encourage an ‘acceptance and celebration of difference'."

Tony commented: "In a climate of funding cuts and gloom this award is a great vote of confidence for Shape. It confirms the innovation and value we bring to the creative and cultural sector with truly participatory arts projects like Re-Framing Disability. Developing partnerships and creating employment opportunities for disabled people from the creative sector is a vital part of what Shape does and our collaboration with the RCP has helped us achieve these important goals."

Re-framing disability was generously supported by the Wellcome Trust People Awards and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) Documentation Improvement Grant.

The exhibition is touring to venues across the UK throughout 2011-2012. It is currently on display at the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies until the end of January 2012. Further details about touring venues and the online exhibition can be found on the RCP website at:

The AMIs support the Ability Media Centre. Set up by Leonard Cheshire Disability, the centre gives disabled and disadvantaged young people the training and skills they need to meet the demands of the media industries.