On Tuesday 22 January Sharon Hodgson MP hosted a Cultural Inclusion Manifesto reception in the House of Commons. The event, attended by NSEAD, was supported by nasen (National Association of Special Educational Needs) working with Every Child Should and the manifesto’s authors Paul Morrow and Rachel Christophides.
The Cultural Inclusion Manifesto is a set of shared beliefs which aim to both drive and guide inclusive practice in the fields of education, art and culture. Signatories have affirmed their commitment to these beliefs as well as to collaborative working across sectors to encourage and inform the inclusion of disabled children and young people in artistic and cultural experiences.
The manifesto now has over 100 signatories from a range of stakeholders including arts and culture organisations, schools, disability charities, disabled artists, MPs, Peers, London Assembly Members, disabled children and their families.
What is the Cultural Inclusion Manifesto asking for?
1. For individuals and organisations to sign the Manifesto
The manifesto is a pledge of support, but it is also an emerging community of practice committed to improving access to the arts. From the start of the manifesto just over a year ago, through to the launch at the Lyric Hammersmith in July and the first conference in October 2018, the manifesto has been a catalyst for new partnerships, conversations and approaches. The volume of signatories demonstrates the traction that this cross-sector initiative has gained, acknowledging the need for greater collaboration that can lead to significant and meaningful shifts in both policy and practice.
The pledge can be signed here and individuals and organisations are supported to share their experiences, come to events and set up their own #culturalinclusion manifesto projects.
2. For the Arts Council to develop a specific cultural inclusion strategy around disability
The Arts Council is the key conduit for government funding for the arts. Over 2018-2022 the Arts Council have c£2billion of funding from across government to support great art and culture for everyone. They are currently developing their 2020-2030 strategy. Where Arts Council fund others tend to follow, and the research policies and positions of the Arts Council set the tone for the whole arts and cultural sector.
There are many areas of good inclusive practice across the arts, cultural and heritage sectors and we are capturing these through the culturalinclusion.uk website. But this needs to be the common experience for everyone.
The author's of the report state they have heard – consistently – that disability inclusion is sporadic and over reliant on both individuals and the efforts of organisations with disability at their core. In many arts and cultural strategies disability is often the least developed in terms of approaches to access and inclusion. For example, the (London) Mayor’s Cultural Strategy has many strengths but only mentions disability a handful of times and three of these are in the glossary. Reports on art cuts in schools rarely focus on the impact in special schools. Programmes on careers in the art and cultural sectors rarely focus on career pathways for young adults with significant learning difficulties.
23 Jan 2019