Inclusion

We believe it is in the nature of the arts to hold up a critical mirror to society, and to break down barriers between its different groups. But is our sector fully reflective of the communities we live in?  

This debate is about the urgency to open up the arts to all of society - to all the classes, ethnicities, physical abilities, and backgrounds that constitute it.

 

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For thousands of years in the Western theatrical tradition, the atypical body has been used to scare, warn, explain, and explore human frailty, mortality, and the human condition. Disability has been a metaphor for the non-disabled to explore their fears and embedded societal values.
While the media and popular culture may portray refugee camps mainly as places of desperation, human rights workers know that they are complex communities teeming with economic, social, and artistic life. Social-justice oriented theater professionals have found refugee camps to be a vital and vibrant place to practice their craft. But like any human rights or social justice work, refugee theater projects must be culturally sensitive and ethically-responsible.
Given the litany of distractions vying for people's attention nowadays, arts organizations need to do a better job at engaging everyone, "diverse communities" or otherwise. The engagement challenge spans demographics, and that's because the very definition of the arts experience is changing.
The inclusion of migrants and refugees: the role of cultural organisations
Where to start? What do we need to know? What to do and how? These are frequently asked questions among cultural professionals interested in contributing to the inclusion of migrants and refugees in our societies. It is necessary to have access to the knowledge and tools that will allow us to reflect on the situation we are currently facing and to develop programmes and actions that can address the concerns and needs of the society, including those of the newcomers. With this publication, Portugues organisation Acesso Cultura aims to help meeting some of these needs.
Image from Lampedusa Mirrors, from Matarasso's blog "A restless art"
Like all citizens and their organisations, artists are part of civil society. They have a distinctive role within it when their work gives voice and visibility to people who are marginalised or not easily heard. In all societies some groups and interests dominate, thanks to their position, strength or control of resources. For everyone else, culture may be the only legitimate (or safe) form of expression.
Thanks to the support of the Arts Council, in 2016 #WakingTheFeminists commissioned groundbreaking research into the gender balance in ten of the top publicly funded theatre organisations over a ten-year period from 2006-2015, as a way to create a baseline from which these changes can be measured. This report is the piece of the puzzle that was missing, the research that never existed. And you will find that it is stark.
Illustration by Lia Strasser.
We must avoid trafficking in clichés and “received knowledge” about Muslims—or any other marginalized group—because to do so instrumentalizes stereotype. The question is not who gets to speak for certain groups (since that critique has long been used to silence disempowered communities), but rather to propose strategy to improve opportunity equity and awareness.
A new diversity programme will shift power and resources to where they can be most effective. Dawn Walton explains the thinking behind Eclipse Theatre’s new artist development initiative.
Being an Artist Today; Gender, Mobility & Friendship
On 20-23 April I attended the IETM Plenary Meeting in Bucharest, Romania, a network of over 500 performing arts organisations and individual members working in the contemporary performing arts worldwide. The international network for contemporary performing arts hosts a meeting in a different city in Europe twice a year, advocating for the value of performing arts, commissioning publications and research, and facilitating communication and the distribution of information.
What was diverse ten years ago is privileged today, and today’s diversity models will become obsolete in the coming years. Historically disenfranchised groups are just now finding their voices after decades, even centuries, of silence.

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