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Shape Arts: Link Up

The Shape and Link Up Project logos.

The Shape and Link Up Project logos

DAO asked Shape London about an innovative scheme which aims to give disabled people the skills to work in all areas of the Arts through a one-to-one mentoring process.
Link Up is a major three year career development programme for deaf and disabled artists living in London run by the disability arts organisation Shape and funded by the LDA. The programme is founded on the premise of the benefits of enabling artists to further their practice and/or their employment potential through professional development opportunities, and is committed to ensuring that access requirements are met for all participants.

One of the main strands of the Link Up project is the opportunity for established artists to train to become Mentors or Advisors to emerging artists. Following the free training Link Up will work to match artists with Mentors and Advisors to make the best possible match of interests, knowledge and experience for both parties.
The mentoring process
Individuals interested in the training programme can become a Mentor and/or an Advisor. Advice and Guidance sessions are one off, hour long meetings between the artist and Advisor which focus on specific, targeted issues, such as employment advice, writing a CV or artist statement, or producing fundraising ideas.
The Mentor relationship is based around a longer term process, which monitors and responds to the individual's career development needs over an agreed set period. The length and timing of these sessions are agreed between the mentor and each mentee but must total 6 hours in all, and it is suggested that they are spread over a six month period.
Link Up is looking for experienced deaf and disabled individuals involved in the arts in London, who are interested in learning a new skill and sharing their experience with emerging artists. Applicants need to have a demonstrable level of experience and knowledge in their specific art form and/or have an overview of the arts.
The scheme is not just open to artists and performers, but to those involved in the creative industries in its widest sense, for example as curators, conductors, producers and directors. Applications are invited from deaf and disabled individuals from across the arts in London, including, but not limited to the visual arts, art and design, craft making, theatre, the written word and dance.


Training takes place over three days, at Shape's offices in North London with an experienced facilitator and advisor. The programme is divided into three main areas - Laying the Foundations, The Specifics of Mentoring / Advice & Guidance and The Practicalities of Mentoring / Advice & Guidance. Over the course of the training applicants will work through specific training on the entire mentoring process, starting with the key values of the support relationship, through to goal setting, creating individual action plans and finally, evaluation.

Following training Shape will endeavour to match Mentors and Advisors to suitable applicants. Although a successful placement cannot be guaranteed as it depends on a suitable pool of applicants to match too, once trained Mentors and Advisors are part of the scheme for the duration of the project and will be contacted when a suitable match arises. Mentors are paid £50 for each completed session (£300 in total for each individual mentoring relationship), Advisors are paid £75 per one hour session.

"I have been teamed up with a mentor who is an excellent match. I would encourage everyone to be involved with this project as a mentor or mentee!" Steven Whinnery, Performer

Contact the Link Up team at Shape to find out more:
Phone: 020 7619 6165 / 020 7619 6175
Fax: 020 7619 6162
Minicom 020 7619 6161 SMS 07958 705 615
As well as the mentoring scheme Link-up also organises career development days with speakers drawn from a range of artforms. Other aspects of the programme include an advice and guidance scheme and an employer's forum. For more information please go to