Up to today, how we lay out the parameters of the inclusive arts generates an exciting "creative tension" because it is a practice, discipline and movement that has been around for so long, yet still unfolding by the day each art is being produced.
Inclusive Arts lies at the intersection of so many fields to include the fine arts, art education, creative therapies and arts activism. It as diverse as the population it serves and is fastly growing as an area of study for many artists who would want to pursue this particular interest.
In their pioneering book INCLUSIVE ARTS PRACTICE AND RESEARCH (2015), Alice Fox and Hannah Macpherson describe inclusive arts as the creative collaborations between learning disabled and non-learning disabled artists. It aims to build the competence, knowledge and skills from these collaborations which have resulted to high quality artworks and creative experiences. The Inclusive arts are driven to redefine what art is and should be. It wants to value the creative contribution of what each participant can make, regardless of age, socio-economic status, ability or disability. It emphasizes collaboration, communication, exchange, relationships and the creative talent of its collaborators.
Today, Inclusive arts is being mainstreamed across societies all over the world. This is the inspiration for the INCLUSIVE ARTS INITIATIVE that originates from inclusive arts practitioners in South East Asia to connect with the world through this platform.
How did the Inclusive Arts practice start?
Inclusive Arts find its roots from the Disability Arts Movement in the United Kingdom in the 1970s. It was meant to identify art that reflects one’s personal experience of disability. In the disability rights movement, the Social Model of Disability shifts the orientation to viewing disability as social rather than a medical issue, and art can play a role in helping build this perspective.
According to Carrie Sandahl (2009), the disability arts has established itself as integral to the disability culture and rights movement since it talks about disability in the political, personal and aesthetic sense. Disability arts therefore produced overtly political work that falls outside of mainstream arts production and was situated in the avante-garde, fringe or independent contexts (Arts Access Victoria, 2015).
The term “inclusive arts” began to be used in the UK under the Creative Partnerships Policy for Education in 2006 (Thomson and Hall, 2007; cited by Arts Access Victoria, 2015), referring to artist collaborations, cultural participation, curriculum planning and artistic facilitation as a way of putting down barriers and promoting social change (Fox, 2010; cited by Arts Access Victoria, 2015). Since then, the definition has widened the concept of inclusive arts beyond an act of social criticism.
Where can I find Inclusive Arts Today?
Many inclusive arts champions around the world are successfully building awareness and institutionalising the practice - in the UK, the United States, Australia, South Asia and South East Asia - almost every corner in the world has an artist helping a person with disability!
One of the biggest victories is the founding of an Masters of Inclusive Arts Practice at the University of Brighton, England, which formalises the methods and theories through documented practices around the world. This was created by Professor Alice Fox, Deputy Head of Brighton's School of Art. With this, artists can now gain access to a degree to build this discipline.
Many books have also been written about it, to include Fox and Macpherson's Critical Manifesto: Inclusive Arts Practice and Research in 2015, and Beyond Access: The Creative Case for Inclusive Arts Practice (A Literature Review) by Arts Access Victoria. These show an overview of everything about Inclusive Arts!