New project aims to end inequality in arts participation

A new project aims to end the inequality in arts participation in England and Wales. It aims to help artists and organisations engage marginalised groups.

Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University are working with Manchester-based mental health charity 42nd Street, Arts Council for England, and arts institutions across the UK. The collaboration is to develop a network that will explore what can be done to widen participation in arts.

Project lead Professor Gabrielle Ivinson, Professor of Education and Community at Manchester Metropolitan University, spoke of the project’s positivity.

“Introducing the Arts and increasing the availability of arts-based activities can play a positive role for young people. Especially marginalised youth who live in poverty and are at risk of social isolation, substance misuse, self-harm and civic disengagement.

“While enormous strides have been taken towards making arts institutions accessible and welcoming to a more diverse range of people, there are still considerable challenges in widening access to some marginalised groups. That is why this project is so important.”

Despite inclusion agendas, arts employees from publicly-funded theatres, museums, galleries and art centres have revealed considerable concern. The concerns are about the uneven social participation in the Arts.

As part of the £24,203 project, arts employees will come together with academics and practitioners from the fields of community and youth work. They will critically debate issues such as participation, democracy, enterprise, trust, street work and festivals.

The network will meet in a series of BarCamp meetings throughout the year in Manchester, London, Bradford, Brighton and Cardiff.

Professor Ivinson said: “It’s important to ask the question: Why, given that participation in Arts is a major focus in inclusion agendas, do these often play out in practice, unintentionally, in exclusionary ways?”

The network will provide guidance to public arts organisations and artists. on how to adapt, access and engage marginal groups.


TNT Arts & Culture

Photo Credit: Peter Lewicki on Unsplash

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