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News from Lemos&Crane

People with learning disabilities and museums, galleries and performing arts: re-imagining access and participation

Lemos&Crane's research into the experiences of people with learning disabilities of harassment, abuse and cruelty drew attention to the ways in which the social lives of adults with learning disabilities living independently too often revolve around day centres, pubs, cafes and sitting at home watching television and the internet.  Access to more meaningful social lives, including faith communities, sports clubs as well as the arts, museums and galleries, are an essential component in building resilience, wellbeing and protective, empowering social networks.

Unlike in ordinary education, children and young people with learning disabilities in special education are not routinely taken to museums, galleries or theatres. As a consequence the Roman centurions, dinosaurs, the Pharaohs or Renaissance paintings remain outside their experience but not beyond their comprehension.

There are many longstanding, widely respected arts groups either working specifically with people with learning disabilities, or working inclusively with people with learning disabilities as part of artistic practice and participation with a variety of diverse groups.  However, progress on improving access to mainstream venues is limited, patchy and not sustained.  Adult social care and supported housing providers could also do more to ensure that people with learning disabilities have access to and participate in the full range of social, cultural and artistic activities in communities.

Despite longstanding commitments to access, participation, learning and diversity, museums, galleries and arts venues are not required by funders or policy makers to promote access for people with intellectual disabilities in the way that they are expected to for other diverse groups.

Lemos&Crane are undertaking a short scoping study funded by CIty Bridge Trust into the work of arts groups, performing arts venues, galleries and museums in London about their work with people with learning disabilities.

Objectives:

  1. To review the policy and practice of performing arts venues, galleries and museums in London on access and participation for adults with learning disabilities including marketing and audience development, access (including technical assistance e.g. easy read signing), participation and commissioning and presenting work by artists with learning disabilities
  2. To identify activities and projects currently taking place to improve access
  3. To identify activities and projects being undertaken in adult social care or supported housing to improve access to the arts, museums and galleries
  4. To scope a larger programme of work with venues, galleries and museums to develop and disseminate models of good practice for improving access
  5. To make recommendations for funders, venues, galleries and museums on improving access for adults with learning disabilities

Read more at 

Comments

Posted by Julie McNamara on Saturday 28th June 2014:
I think there are some misunderstandings in the assumptions you make that people with learning disabilities or older people are disengaged with the arts, museums and galleries. There are a wide range of companies in the creative industries whose sole identitya nd focus is on serving and working alongside the groups of people you suggest are being excluded. Your own load-in form to register does not include Disability arts as a sector, but rather segragates the arts and museums and galleries from 'Older people' or 'People with Learning Disabilities'. Is there no possibility of cross over / multiple characteristics within an Arts organisation's identity according to your organisation's outreach? I'm thinking of Anjali dance theatre; FaceFront Inclusive Theatre; Mind the Gap; Hearts and Souls; Spare Tyre; Mockbeggar Arts; Wicked Fish; Spare Cog; The Lawnmowers; Ghetto Street Theatre; Fish Police; Magpie: Shoot Yer Mouth Off and Vital Xposure to name but a few...
Posted by Gerard Lemos on Sunday 29th June 2014:
Thanks for your comment Julie. Having re-read the previous blog post, I agree with what you say and I have re-written it to reflect what I hope is a more rounded picture. We know the work of many of the organisations you mention and greatly admire them. Our main concerns are that mainstream venues,museums and galleries should do more to improve access and participation for people with learning disabilities and organisations which provide social care and support services could also do more to facilitate involvement and inclusion. We hope our work will make a small contribution to both drawing attention to the need for progress in this area. Gerard Lemos
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