Give or Donate
Click to visit our everyclick site to donate or support us

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    Origins and Development

    The vision of the organisation that was to become Artlink Central was developed in 1987 by a range of partners and individuals who had an identified a need for a disability and arts organisation in the Stirling area and across the Central Region of Scotland. The Scottish Council on Disability and other partners including the macrobert (then Macrobert Arts Centre), Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Stirling District Council and Central Regional Council supported the organisations development as a voluntary agency.

    Established as a company limited by guarantee and charity in 1988, the organisation secured funding to deliver projects to increase participation in the arts by disabled people, which included ‘Sons and Daughters of the Rock’, an exhibition and showcase at the Smith Museum and Art Galley, an Out and About programme and this work was led initially by two part time staff and a volunteer. The Unemployed Voluntary Action Fund, Scottish Arts Council, Stirling District Council and Marks and Spencers were all early supporters. The Scottish Arts Council began regularly funding the organisation from the early nineties. Lloyds TSB for Scotland (then TSB) was another notable early supported.

    The early years of the organisation were marked by some financial instability, culminating in 1992 with the appointment of Sarah Chester, who was recruited to wind the organisation’s activities up. Sarah, however, saw the potential in continuing Artlink Central’s work and was able to lead the organisation forward successfully, extending its work into the health and criminal justice sectors over time and broadening its geographic base across the Forth Valley area. Sarah grew the organisation progressively over a fourteen year period as Co-ordinator, then Director of the organisation. Over this period of time there were many significant programmes including the following:


    Programming highlights 1998-2008

    ‘The Long Way Home’  (1998) – A new play looking at the effect of Dementia on relationships. Commissioned by Artlink Central in partnership with Joint Dementia Initiative and Alzheimer Scotland. 5 performances throughout Forth Valley

    Prison performances 1998 to now – Initially in Cornton Vale and Polmont Young Offenders an ongoing commitment to performing arts. Encompassing original writing and composition through to Pantomime and Shakespeare. Currently delivered in Cornton Vale.

    Inside Outside (1999) – Link project with Cornton Vale Prison and Cornton Primary School. The same artists working with groups in both settings to create work for each other.

    Wheel Links (2002) – Working with Carmuirs Primary School, adults with learning disability,BT Scottish Ensemble and professional actors. A performance to celebrate the opening of the Falkirk Wheel.

    Bank Notes (2005) – Funded by the Clydesdale Bank and Arts and Business. Music and drama used to familiarise adults with learning difficulties with how a high street bank works for them. Across Forth Valley. Film, photography, percussion, Arts sharing day. Won National Arts and Business Culture and Diversity award 2005.

    A Renewable World (2006)  – 10 schools from throughout Forth Valley worked with artists to create animation and artworks from recyclable materials to raise awareness of our throwaway culture. Exhibited at The MacRobert, Stirling.

    Under Milkwood (2007) – In partnership with The Scottish Storytelling Centre, Artlink Central group of learning disabled actors performed ‘Under Milkwood’ in Stirling and then in Edinburgh at The Netherbow Theatre.

    Count me in Tune (2007) – Funded by The Clydesdale Bank. Songs and actions were commissioned to help familiarise children with additional support needs with British currency.Activity bags circulated through Forth Valley schools and libraries. Shortlisted for Scottish Arts and Business Award.

    Carnivale (2008) – Full week programme with Paul Rissmann and Scottish Ensemble working with 12 adults with learning disability. Creating companion animal compositions to fit into Saint Saens ‘Carnival of the Animals’. Performed publicly at Blairdrummond Safari Park.


    Patrons and Supporters

    Artlink Central drew increased interest from individual supporters and donors over these years. First, Dame Evelyn Glennie, followed by the author of ‘The Gruffalo’, Julia Donaldson, began to support the organisation as Patrons. Julia, in particular, has been highly visible and vocal on Artlink Central’s behalf. Another particular success has been the biennual Art on the Rock/Art off the Rock event, a major arts auction that has generated substantial ongoing support for the work of the charity.



    In 2008, Sarah Chester made plans to retire and Artlink Central sought a new Director. Sarah Chester was also at this time awarded an MBE for her work with Artlink Central.

    Kevin Harrison joined the organisation as its first full-time Director in April 2009 and secured transitional organisational development funding from the Scottish Arts Council to undertake an ambitious review of Artlink Central and support it to refocus, professionalise and realise its artistic potential, marking the start of a programme of transitions that has delivered and will continue to deliver real change and artistic growth in the company.