Here at Creative Arts East, we have always been concerned with combating barriers to participation in the arts, and though the majority of our work tends to focus around rural communities and the associated barriers that those community members might have to arts engagement, an inclusive ethos overall is an important value for CAE. However, there is always more that can be done.
Over the last few months, we’ve started to think more about how we can ensure that all of our rural touring events and community cinema screenings are open and accessible to all those who might want to attend them, regardless of age, gender, race, orientation, health or disability. Our audience demographic may not alter through doing this, but we are committed to helping our promoters open the doors of their village halls as wide as possible.
We started off by making some mini inclusivity pledges within our team – small actions we could either do within our roles or the team to try and be more inclusive. Here are some we came up with:
Our Mini Inclusivity Pledges
Natalie: I pledge to consider accessibility of my PowerPoint Presentations – can the primary points be communicated if you can’t hear clearly? Just having images on the Powerpoint look lovely but are not that accessible if you can’t hear?
Julie: I pledge to tailor my language when making Our Day Out phonecalls to reflect the fact that often they’re not feeling 100% – try a different variation of “How are you?”
Abbie: I pledge to better prepare for when Julie makes the Our Day Out calls (Abbie’s phone is second in the call queue) and answer in an appropriate manner when the participants call back through.
Sophie: I pledge to look into what we would need to do/where we would go to if anyone contacted us and needed marketing information in a different format (e.g. large print, text-to-speech)
Karen: I pledge to make sure we are always asking artists both on forms and in person if we can do anything to make their visit easier.
Alice: I pledge to develop accessibility awareness within CAE Screen by including an accessibility statement in the Promoter Handbook.
Zoe: I pledge to make my social media posts as accessible as possible – flyers can’t be read by screen readers so any images I attach should always be supporting rather than necessary.
Jo: I pledge to think more about people coming for meetings in our office – are they okay with stairs? Let’s ask if people have any accessibility requirements before they visit.
At our last Live Performance Promoters Day, we asked our #RuralTouring promoters to think about making their own inclusivity pledges, and they came up with some brilliant ideas ranging from checking their village hall hearing loop still functions and re-painting their disabled parking bay, to making sure all volunteers were dementia-trained and looking into the concept of relaxed performances.
We’ll be doing lots more when it comes to developing our inclusivity, accessibility and diversity over the coming months, including potentially partnering with some influential organisations in this field. So watch this space, and in the meantime why not think about making your own inclusivity pledge?