Rose Kent, Accessible Arts

Rose Kent – Creative Director of Accessible Arts & Media, Chair of Tang Hall Big Local, art & music lecturer, sculptor, community artist.

Accessible Arts & Media (AAM) is an award-winning charity running arts and creative media learning projects since 1982, where the achievements and aspirations of everyone, regardless of their circumstances are celebrated. They work with people with disabilities, people affected by memory loss and adults with enduring mental health  across York and North Yorkshire.

Christine Bainton, friend and colleague of Rose, writes: ‘Rose is committed above and beyond the call of duty which includes rolling up her sleeves on her day off and painting and decorating their new office wherever they move to. Rose is very resourceful and is never daunted by a challenge. In the time I have known her, Accessible Arts has changed its name at least twice and has moved “home” four times. Rose is a consummate organiser and as a result these moves have been seamless. She has infinite amounts of energy and enthusiasm which draw people to her because she is always upbeat. The Hands and Voices choir brings pleasure to all who watch and take part in it and this is down to Rose’s enthusiasm. It is a constant struggle to keep the organisation going and Rose always steps up to the mark and finds the money somehow, mostly by writing never ending bids for funding and organising fundraising events. She is to be admired for her efforts and continuing dedication to Accessible Arts and disability education’.

Rose Kent grew up in Cambridge in a family who ‘think out of the box’. Rose’s father, George, was the headmaster of the school that Rose attended where he invented ‘funishment’. (Punishments which fulfilled a purpose, for example, weeding or litter picking, and were enjoyable). Rose’s uncle Bruce Kent is a political activist best known for his involvement with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament as its General Secretary, and now Vice President.

She came to York in 1979 to study for a BA in Art and Music at Ripon & York St John University. On graduating she planned to travel, but the arrival of her first child, soon to be followed by a second and third meant she needed a plan B. Rose acknowledges the great help given by  her family which enabled her to take part time work at The Priory Street Centre. There, she ran a visual arts project for adults with learning difficulties and disabilities. Out of this came AAM, which is still going after nearly 30 years.

Under Rose’s direction, AAM has developed a wide range of high quality, accessible, affordable and inclusive creative activities specifically designed to meet the wide range of needs, and raise the aspirations of, all those taking part.
• Hands & Voices – one of the UK’s first singing and signing choirs that enables those with communication difficulties to express themselves through music.
• Life Stories – working 1:1 with people going through a period of crisis, helping them to tell their story and communicate what they are going through

  • Inclusive Music Projects (IMPs) – year-round fun, inclusive music activities for disabled and non-disabled children and young people.
  • iMUSE provides a relaxing space for people to explore creatively. It uses relaxation, sound and visuals to help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood and enhance communication. Rose has been a trustee of a number of local charities over the years; she is currently Chair of Tang Hall Big Local, a resident-led initiative funded by the Big Lottery (£1m over 10 years) to make Tang Hall a better place to live.

In 2016 she was recognised as York’s first Cultural Champion in the inaugural York Culture Awards. For her, as a passionate and determined believer in using arts and culture to help people to become more engaged in their local community, it’s all about levelling the playing field, and using creativity and culture in really fun and enjoyable ways, while not taking yourself too seriously.


Websites: The Press, York

CVS York


Written evidence from Christine Bainton

Lynn Liddle’s  interview with Rose on 9 August 2018 and email corrrespondence

Image of Rose Kent © By kind permission of Rose Kent