New Arts Report Puts Disabled Young People In Spotlight

Posted by pt91 at Aug 14, 2015 10:36 AM |
University of Leicester experts author report for The Mighty Creatives

Issued by The Mighty Creatives on

The report – written by experts Dr William Green from the University of Leicester's School of Management and Dr Jack Newsinger from the Department of Media and Communication – finds that cuts are having an unintended but disproportionate effect on disabled children and young people.

The report authors say: "Our research tells two stories: the first is about the tough times faced by arts organisations and how this is affecting their capacity to provide inclusive arts programmes; the second is about the passion, commitment and expertise of arts organisations in the region."

"Reductions in funding have resulted in the closure of a number of high profile arts organisations and had a disproportionate impact on disabled-led organisations. This is well known. Our report details the many small and often unseen cuts that affect the ability of smaller organisations to provide inclusive and high quality arts provision for children and young people of all abilities, and how these together might affect opportunities for the development of the next generation of disabled artists."

The work was commissioned by The Mighty Creatives, the children and young people's creative development agency. The Mighty Creatives is also the Arts Council's Bridge organisation for the East Midlands, meaning it uses its expertise and experience to help more children access more great art and culture, more of the time.

Richard Clark, chief executive of the Mighty Creatives, said: "Our key focus is to ensure every child and young person has the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts and culture.

"We know from our own research that we are a long way from achieving that aim. Specific communities of children and young people are under-represented in arts and cultural participation – including children and young people with disabilities.

"We commissioned this report because we need to understand the challenges children and young people face, so that we can develop creative solutions that make it easier than ever for all children and young people to get involved in the arts.

"What's incredibly pleasing about this report is that the authors have found many fantastic examples of innovation within the cultural sector. They show how organisations of varying sizes and forms have sought to engage disabled children, young people and their families, offering a series of creative solutions that push boundaries."

However, the report also shows that funding cuts made to the arts and cultural sector are more likely to hit children and young people with impairments harder than other groups. This is because this group may already face barriers to getting involved in arts activities, and overcoming those barriers to make activities accessible takes time and money.

Michaela Butter MBE, director of the Attenborough Arts Centre based at the University of Leicester, which helped to conduct the research, said: "These are precisely the audiences and participants that benefit the most from dedicated schemes of work. Our founder and former Patron, Lord Attenborough, campaigned his entire career for the rights of disabled people to have full access to the arts. We are determined to meet the challenges identified in this report and will continue to produce great art experiences that remove barriers for everyone."

The report found similar attitudes across arts organisations it interviewed, with many using innovative techniques to encourage inclusive participation, but struggling with funding cuts. It noted that arts organisations across the East Midlands "provide exemplary opportunities to disabled children and young people, in spite of reduced funding."

University of Leicester Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Mark Peel said: "The research illuminates the resilience of arts and cultural organisations, including their ability to adapt to changing funding environments. This is likely to be a key theme across the sector in the coming years. This report is especially important because it highlights examples of imaginative and creative practice for disabled children and young people that can be adapted by other organisations and indeed by carers. I'm always proud of our researchers when they combine such insightful research with practical impact and contributions to bettering the experience of our communities."

For example, one arts organisation achieved fantastic results staging a regular disco for disabled young people, where they could gather to talk, dance and socialize. Another used specialist software to enable artists to work with disabled children and young people to compose an 'iPad Orchestra', culminating in a live performance.

But one responder in the report, who works for a cultural organisation, said: "It's a very different way of working.

Projects working with disabled children and young people need to be better financed. You generally work with much smaller numbers. Things take longer to prepare and deliver. So that really is an example of where you can't cut corners, and you're much better to do less if you haven't got the money."

Ultimately, the report found that funding cuts do make it disproportionately harder for disabled children and young people to get involved in arts and cultural activities. The report will now be used by The Mighty Creatives and others to shape future policy and try to ensure, despite the funding climate, that disabled children and young people get the best possible opportunities to participate in arts and culture.

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: "Every child should have the opportunity to experience art and culture in their lives. Young people of all backgrounds and abilities deserve the chance to take part in arts activities, and as this latest research shows, funding plays an important part in making this happen: it is why we continue to make the case for public investment into art and culture."

Examples of some of the most inspiring practices that were collected in the course of the research have been collected into a digital book available from The Mighty Creatives.

Click here to read the report in full 00582_Disability_Research_Report_Web.pdf.

To find out more about the work of The Might Creatives, go to

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