for Arts
& Culture
Theatre | Godstone

Orpheus Centre

The Orpheus Centre is an independent specialist college for young disabled adults with a passion for the performing and creative arts. The project uses the arts to give these adults the self-belief to use the skills they develop to live independently when they leave.

Orpheus uses the arts as a vehicle to promote learning and personal development, teaching a diverse curriculum that covers the arts, independence and employment skills. They offer a range of qualifications working with awarding bodies such as Ascentis, Trinity College, LAMDA and the London College of Music, as well as outreach programmes.

Orpheus Centre

Orpheus Centre

Target Beneficiaries

The Orpheus Centre supports young adults between 18 and 25 with a physical and/or learning disability who have interests and talents in the performing and visual arts.

The Centre empowers students to live as independently as possible and contribute to their local community.


Orpheus strives for the advancement of education for young disabled people through the provision of:

  • a structured curriculum, training, learning and other activities which supports their aspirations and progress towards independent living
  • opportunities to participate in the performing arts as creators, performers, technicians, administrators and audiences

Outreach Programmes: At the heart of Orpheus’ work are their Outreach Programmes, consisting of intensive weeks ending with a public show. The focus of these weeks could be song-writing, art, drama or film. This model has been taken out of Orpheus into a variety of settings such as other specialist colleges, mainstream schools, care homes, prisons and young offenders’ institutions.

Showcase performances are very effective in breaking down barriers between disabled and non-disabled people. Time and again, people’s misconceptions about disabled and disadvantaged people are challenged and changed for good.

Outreach Partners: Bronzefield Prison, Medway Secure Training Centre, The Limes College, Young Epilepsy, Something Special (Derry), MusicALL (Glasgow) and Kings College Guildford.



Orpheus started with five disabled students who lived on-site, learning to cook, manage budgets, do laundry and go shopping. They also wrote songs, devised dances and challenged people’s preconceived ideas about disabled people whenever and wherever they performed. Nearly twenty-four years later Orpheus has 62 students split between those living independently on site and as day students.

Everything at Orpheus is focussed on maximising lasting independence for students. They have an entrepreneurial spirit, taking a lead in finding new and effective ways of working in the arts, learning and social care sectors.

They received direct claims status by their awarding bodies and achieved Stage 2 of the Beacon Awards monitored by the Association of Colleges.

Their success helps to alleviate the concern of parents, carers and siblings about their well-being when they are no longer able to assist them.

Students have performed in venues all over the country including the Royal Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, Glastonbury Festival, Notting Hill Carnival, the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, The Royal Festival Hall, and appeared in hit TV show Call The Midwife. They also worked with schools, prisons, community groups and businesses to break down barriers and challenge stereotypes.


Various trusts and individual donors support the Centre, including: Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, The National Lottery Community Fund, The Worshipful Company of Musicians. The school also receives local authority support. Outreach Programmes are funded by the Monument Trust, The Queen’s Trust, the Peter Harrison Foundation, the Wates Family Foundation, Baily Thomas Charitable Foundation and the Mark Leonard Trust.