Arts Council of Wales and National Museums Wales Widening Engagement Research Project
The Arts Council of Wales (ACW) and the National Museum Wales (NMW) have recognised that “…despite targeted initiatives, we are not reaching as deeply into communities who face the greatest disadvantage as we would wish. We have more to do to ensure equality of opportunity across our communities” (Widening Engagement Tender Brief, July 2020). In response to this acknowledgment they have contracted myself and other colleagues such as Jonny Cotsen (D/deaf community), Mary Allen (non-verbal people with cognitive impairments), Richie Turner (who I recently worked with on the arts access card feasibility study for the UK) and Lyndy Cooke (our project manager).
The term “disabled” in the context of our research covers people who self-define as D/deaf or otherwise sensory impaired, as neurodiverse, as physically impaired or as having a learning difficulty or cognitive impairment and who experience socio-economic barriers related to their impairments.
ACW and NMW need to know what disabled people’s organisations, disability support organisations and individual disabled people themselves have to say about engaging in creative cultural activity, and what support might look like if they’re to be enabled to do this? They are seeking to better understand the interests, ambitions, frustrations of those who, for whatever reason, either choose to believe that the arts “aren’t for them” and have chosen not to use National Museums Wales as a resource, or who have bee excluded and unable to attend, participate or work in the arts and cultural heritage sectors throughout Wales.
ACW and NMW have recognised that as public bodies in Wales they aren’t able to reach out in the same way we can through our networks and extensive experience in working in the fields of equality and diversity for many years; specifically with D/deaf and disabled people.
During the next month or so myself and my colleagues will be running a series of engagement and consultation activities (ranging from Zoom one to one interviews, focus groups either face-to-face or online and online surveys) that seek to identify why someone feels excluded, why they are excluded and what can ACW and NMGW do to remove that isolation and barriers to attendance and participation?
We are especially keen to talk to those disabled people who never go to arts related events or visit the National Museums Wales due to no knowledge of available events, a lack of support or because of access restrictions (or other reasons).
Initially we wish to engage and consult with you as a disabled people’s organisation, but we also need your help in identifying individuals, who are either members of your organisation or who you support directly with your services, to take part in 121 interviews or focus group discussions (online).
This is an amazing opportunity for the voices of disabled people to be properly heard as we will be feeding back directly to the Trustees and Directors of the Arts Council of Wales and the National Museum Wales, in an attempt to open up access to the arts and cultural heritage sectors to all disabled people. We also recognise that the current COVID19 pandemic means that many disabled people are still shielding and most of us are concerned about returning to locations such as arts venues and museums (with large crowds of people). These concerns need to be reflected in any future programmes and engagement initiatives.
It would be greatly appreciated if you could complete this survey for organisations. The link to the organisation survey is here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/LXPCGVQ and then also circulate the survey for individual disabled people who are either your members or are those receiving support services from your organisation.
The link for survey of disabled individuals is here:
Moreover, if you could also circulate a survey aimed at carers of disabled people, for example family members and professional support service workers, that would also be greatly appreciated. The link for the carers survey is here:
We will be back in touch regarding the 121 interviews, focus group sessions and how to anyone can submit a creative response to this survey in a few weeks’ time (as we recognise many disabled people cannot easily participate in online surveys and we wish to ensure nobody is digitally excluded), but if you have any suggestions of individual disabled people that you know would be willing to take part in further discussions please can you put us in touch with them (subject to their permission of course).
If you have any questions about this post, our surveys or the work we are undertaking do please get back in touch with me as soon as possible.
Thank you for your support,