New head of Derbyshire disability charity wants to celebrate ‘difference’

Andy Willliams at the Level Centre, Rowsley
Andy Willliams at the Level Centre, Rowsley

A ground-breaking Derbyshire-based arts charity renowned for its innovative work with artists with learning disabilities is celebrating the appointment of its new leader.

For the last 25 years Rowsley’s LEVEL has used traditional creative arts and cutting-edge digital technologies to help change the lives of the people it works with.

Andy Willliams outside the Level Centre Rowsley

Andy Willliams outside the Level Centre Rowsley

Now Andy Williams, an artistic director, performer, composer and multi-media artist, has been appointed its new director, and the organisation is increasingly keen to showcase the work it does to the outside world.

Talking about his aims and aspirations for the body on the weekend after his appointment, Andy said he wants to see the ‘brilliant’ work taking place at the Level Centre make more of an impact on regional, national and international levels.

“Many people are not aware of what we do or, in some cases, even that the Level Centre exists in Rowsley - as it is hidden away just behind the bend in the road.

“Level is a purpose-built arts centre for people with learning disabilities and artists wishing to develop their practice, undertake research projects or display new work.

“It is a unique facility and its work deserves to be better known.”

Andy said people with learning disabilities often create ‘unique and different art’ and that the centre under his leadership would continue to develop ways in which people could experience ‘high quality art’ that celebrates and explores the notion of ‘difference’.

Going forward, Andy is keen to talk about the exciting new projects that he hopes will help the centre build on the 5,000 attendances they get each year, and thereby secure funding for the organisation beyond 2018.

First up, on November 10, is a club-style event, ‘Purple Peach,’ which will mix new music with digital artwork, interactive art and video installations.

Launching on the night and specially commissioned for the event, artist Will Hurt has developed a ‘digital playground’ that can be controlled and developed by people through a process of playful interventions.

Andy Williams: Factfile

Andy has been a freelance multi-media artist and composer for over 20 years, working with musicians, orchestras, performance companies and developing installations for galleries and festivals.

Much of his work has involved creative input from communities and people, developing projects that can engage and involve people in a creative process and work towards performances and public events.

He has also worked as the artistic director of Random Line, an award-winning performance company comprised of people with a learning disability, was the artistic director of musical performers, Ensemble 8, and was Leverhulme artist in residence at the University of Leicester, Space Research Centre.

Eddy Higgs, chairman of LEVEL’s Trustees, said: “Andy’s combination of artistic excellence and experience in working with people with learning disabilities is just what we need to keep on developing our work.”