IETM Hull 2019 explored the reality of inclusion in today’s societies, in their artistic representations and in the process of creation. We examined issues around race, ethnicity, faith, disability, age, gender, sexuality, class and economic disadvantage and any social and institutional barriers that prevent people from participating in and enjoying the arts as an integral part of the societies they live in. We asked ourselves the question: is involving everyone something we want to deliver in theory but something we find hard to deliver in practice? We also debated the language used and whether terms like “inclusion” are more problematic than helpful. Since one size does not fit all, we asked our participants who do they choose to include? How do they deliver this practically in their work?
We started from the principle that, for the arts to survive and thrive, we need to have spaces and places to have positive discussions and debates about these issues. We need to have time to talk about our approaches to ensuring our work is for everyone. Alongside this we need to keep talking about how we make and keep international partnerships and collaborations going, especially when things are constantly changing politically. It is thus not an accident that IETM Hull began on the eve of the very day that the UK was supposed to leave the European Union; we aspired to express our solidarity to our UK-based colleagues and to overcome political barriers in these times of uncertainty.
Absolutely Cultured, our cultural colleagues in this city and our partners, Arts Council England and the British Council, warmly welcomed us in the East Yorkshire city of Hull to both challenge and champion these issues. IETM Hull reflected the complex journey we are all on, with an exciting and innovative programme of talks, debates, performances, networking opportunities and more - all placed within Hull, a city with creative and progressive ambitions.
A set of artistic walks and dinners with local artists allowed us to get familiar with the local performing arts scene as well as to immerse ourselves in the inspiring streets of UK’s 2017 City of Culture. What’s more, the city offered us an uplifting programme of boundary-breaking and thought-provoking artistic performances destined to raise awareness on the fragile yet challenging theme of inclusion. The (net)working sessions also gave participants the chance to establish new meaningful partnerships and international professional connections aimed at advocating for more inclusive practices in the performing arts sector.
Image in banner: © Thomas Arran