Level’s Furniture Music needs to be heard

Hidden away behind a bend on the A6 at Rowsley is an arts centre that is the home to ground-breaking work with people with learning disabilities.

Few people would notice the building as they drive past and even those that do wouldn’t be aware it was an arts centre.

But that is all about to change thanks to the director of Level Andy Williams, an artistic director, composer, and multi-media artist, pictured above with students from Lady Manners School in Bakewell.

“Many people have no idea what we do and it is true that in the past as an organisation we preferred to keep a low profile but I am hoping it becomes much more open. I want us to promote ourselves a lot more, get out an awful lot more and stage more public events.

“There is brilliant work going on here and such a unique facility deserves to be better known,” said Andy, who was previously the centre’s artist-in-residence.

He specialises in creating digital projection environments as well as having an international reputation running participatory projects.

He says he is drawn to working with people who are different – seeing, hearing, and interpreting things in an alternative fashion.

As a result he has spent much time working with people with learning difficulties and his philosophy and strong belief is that difference should be celebrated.

Level works with people with learning difficulties both in Derbyshire and across the country, as well as internationally – thanks to high-tech conferencing links.

It is also a centre for artists  working in the field who wish to develop their practice, undertake research projects or display new work. Each week there are workshops in photography and film, sensory arts, performance and multi media installations.

The next major installation will be Furniture Music a research project and solo sound installation by Toby Heys, of the Manchester Institute of Research and Innovation in Art and Design.

Furniture music was a phrase coined in the last century referring to background music in public spaces.

The installation plays with this idea by using frequencies which are at the edge of human perception played through an array of speakers built into specially made furniture.

The Furniture Music opening event is on Friday April 29 from 7.30-9pm and then Monday-Thursday from May 3-June 23.