Dr Jade French
- Position: Lecturer in Inclusive Arts Practice & Museum Studies
- Areas of expertise: Inclusive arts; museums, galleries and heritage; curating; disability studies; studio practice; facilitation; action-research
- Email: J.French2@leeds.ac.uk
- Location: 1.05 School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies
- Website: Twitter | LinkedIn | Googlescholar | Researchgate | ORCID
I am an artist-facilitator, practice-led researcher, and specialist in inclusive arts practice – a global creative practice whereby learning disabled and/or neurodivergent artists create work with the support of professional facilitators. My teaching and research interests emerge from 10 years’ practical experience of facilitating inclusive and community-led projects in museums, galleries, and artist studios, typically in collaboration with learning disabled people to innovate inclusive practices in curating, commissioning, and artist development. In 2020 I published a monograph on this topic titled Inclusive Curating in Contemporary: A Practical Guide.
Before my career in both the arts and academia, I worked as a personal assistant in self-advocacy organisations supporting learning disabled people with their day-to-day care and life planning. This afforded me rich experience in disability access, facilitation, support and person-centred approaches which now actively inform both my research interests in disability studies and social care as well as my approaches to facilitation and teaching.
I have since practiced as an artist-facilitator in the inclusive arts sector for over ten years. I have supported a range of learning disabled and neurodivergent artists, inclusive arts organisations, and supported studios to create artworks, programmes, exhibitions and policy including international collaborations across Ireland (International Curator Residency and British Council Axis Artist Exchange with KCAT and Pyramid), USA, Brazil (Sesc São Paulo Museum Accessibility Study and Research Group) and Japan (Tokyo 2020 Art Brut World Forum). I am recognised internationally for inclusive artist-facilitation and alongside my interests in inclusive curating and inclusive artist development, much of my work looks at the role of a creative facilitator in the arts and I am interested in how this practice intersects with support work in social care.
- School Academic Lead for Inclusive Practice
- School Lead for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
- Programme Director MA Arts Management & Heritage Studies
I am currently leading AHRC research project ‘Irregular’ Art Schools (2021–23) which aims to innovate professional development opportunities for learning disabled artists through action research in collaboration with artists Ria, Liam, Victor and Alfie from supported studio Pyramid, artist-led space Assembly House, and the adult social care team at Leeds City Council. During this project we have been interested in what learning disabled people living in the Leeds City Region want and need to grow as professional artists and have thought about how to make studio settings, creative networking, social care and access to higher education more accessible.
In addition to my own projects, I am a Research Associate on Dr Miro Griffiths’ Leverhulme Trust Fellowship Disability Activism in Europe: Young Disabled Activists Views and Experiences (2020–2023) where I am developing a creative zine. I am also Co-Investigator on AHRC research project I’m Me: Identity, Representation and Voice (2023-25) led by Professor Matthew Reason and Mind the Gap theatre company which will work with learning disabled and autistic artists to explore questions of identity, representation and voice.
Within museums, galleries, and contemporary arts my research interests include:
- inclusive art, access and disability
- participatory and socially engaged practices
- ‘outsider’ art, art brut and self taught artists
- curatorial practice and theory
- artist-facilitation and artist-education
- action, participatory, co-produced and practice-led research methods
I am also interested in disability studies and learning disability adult social care including:
- learning disability and self-advocacy
- disability rights and disability politics
- personalisation and support work
- PhD Curating, University of Leeds
- MA Inclusive Arts Practice, University of Brighton
- BA Photography, Nottingham Trent University
- Museums Association
- Association of Critical Heritage Studies
I teach and supervise dissertations across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes relating to art, curating and museum studies including the MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies, MA Arts Management and Heritage Studies, BA History of Art and Museum Studies and BA Fine Art. I also act as Programme Director for MA Arts Management and Heritage Studies.
Research groups and institutes
- Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage