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Id 138
Author Jermyn, H.,
Title The art of inclusion

Jermyn, H. (2004).The art of inclusion. London: Arts Council England.

Keywords Social inclusion; Partnership; Sustainability; Success indicators
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Abstract The former Arts Council of England and Regional Arts Boards commissioned research to explore social inclusion work in the arts. The overall objectives of the research were to: • gather evidence that could be used to inform policy and advocacy initiatives • develop and test appropriate methodologies for evaluating arts initiatives with aims related to social inclusion • evaluate three different models of initiating and delivering projects • identify the characteristics of successful initiatives and approaches that did not work and the reasons for this • develop measures of success that could be used to evaluate a broad range of initiatives The research comprised two independent, but related, strands of work: • a self-evaluation strand, conducted by arts consultant Gerri Moriarty, involved working with arts organisations to help them evaluate their own practice and producing an evaluation guide for arts organisations undertaking work in the area of social exclusion. The resulting report, Sharing Practice, was published in 2002 • an external evaluation strand, conducted by independent researcher Helen Jermyn, explored practice and outcomes. This report presents the key findings from this second research strand

Metodology A variety of research methods were used. They included: • desk-based analysis of relevant documents and materials about the organisations, the projects, participant groups and partner agencies • an initial meeting with each project to document the background to the organisation and the project • attendance at key stages of projects’ development (eg performances, exhibitions, evaluation or feedback meetings etc) • interviews with artists, project staff and key stakeholders • interviews with project participants • observation of workshops, rehearsals etc • use of data collected by organisations as part of their own evaluation

Findings Definitions and language One of the fundamental issues to arise from the research concerned definitions and language. Some arts practitioners talked about ‘social inclusion’, some talked about ‘social exclusion’, and some were unsure what the correct terminology was. While ‘social inclusion’ was felt to be less offensive and more palatable than ‘social exclusion’, practitioners did not feel comfortable with this language. Good practice principles in delivering ‘social inclusion work’ For artists delivering projects Artists used a number of recurrent principles when delivering projects with excluded groups or in areas of exclusion: • having flexible and adaptable working methods. • working collaboratively with participants – all projects had a democratic dimension but an ‘anything goes’ approach was not evident; indeed some of the activity was strongly led or directed • pursuing quality – both in the process and outcome • responding to individuals’ needs – this sometimes had implications in terms of needing more than one artist leading activity or costing in the support of someone with specialist skills, such as a youth worker, for example. The importance of being able to give participants one-to-one attention was a recurrent theme. For those planning and coordinating projects Projects could be successful, in terms of the work taking place in sessions and participant outcomes, even when difficulties were being experienced with the nuts and bolts of running the project. Partnerships There were four model 3 partnerships but several of the other case study projects also involved partnerships and these were considered in the research. Many of the challenges experienced by the model 3 partnerships were generic issues that affected other partnerships. Partnership projects highlighted the importance of: • setting clear aims and objectives that were understood by partners • delivering projects that fitted naturally with organisations’ respective goals • being realistic about the level of contribution individual partners could make • discussing how the partnership would work, particularly as organisations can be so different. For example, in the research there were partners who were coming from different places and had different organisational objectives (eg a venue perspective or a community arts perspective), had different ways of working (eg ‘organic’ or ordered), or were very different in size (eg large organisations with many departments and specialised functions, or small organisations where one or two people did everything) • creating strong partnerships with non-arts agencies Sustainability Discussions about sustainability were relevant both in terms of the continuity of participants’ engagement in the arts and developing ‘the sector’. There were some examples of organisations offering participants some form of continuity, eg developing programmes of work rather than ‘one-off’ projects; supporting the development of regular groups that stemmed from one-off projects; and the creation of a ‘drop-in’ facility that could be used by participants. Success indicators Meeting aims and objectives One possible indicator of success might be to assess projects according to whether they have achieved their objectives. A scan through the 15 research case studies reveals how much variation there was in the nature of objectives set by organisations. Some could be achieved relatively easily, some were challenging and some were unrealistic; some focused on reaching certain numbers of people, on an end product such as a play or on less tangible outcomes (such as raised self-esteem). Therefore, judging the success of projects according to whether they have met their aims and objectives is problematic because one is not comparing like with like. Further, artists wanted to do more than achieve objectives at all costs or ‘on paper’ only and there were good reasons why certain objectives were not pursued in practice. Achieving certain outcomes The research sought to test potential ‘success indicators’, which involved exploring the outcomes that have previously been identified as potential outcomes of arts participation. A participant survey was administered by the researcher which allowed certain qualitative outcomes to be quantified but also offered latitude to discuss some areas in more depth than a purely indicatorbased approach would allow. One of the difficulties underlying an indicator-based approach is that there is such a diversity of work taking place, with particular groups having particular needs, and a one-size-fits-all approach will inevitably be problematic. Further, while it is possible to quantify certain outcomes (such as increases in confidence), the indicators can be ambiguous and need to be interpreted with care. For example, if someone feels no more confident at the end of the project than at the start that does not mean the project has ‘failed’. Practitioners’ perceptions of success Artists themselves would sometimes judge the success of projects by referring to the seemingly small, but significant, developments they had witnessed among participants. The artists would also reflect on whether the group had met its potential, and on the progression of the group and of individuals. The judgements made by others, be they audiences, attenders or other groups, also informed artists’ perceptions of whether a project had been a success or not.
Open Access YES
Search Database Snowball
Technique Interview; Observation; Document analysis; Literature review
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