Barriers to Social Inclusion in Art
Written by: Rachel Caborn
Image Credit of Art D'Égypte - JR: Greetings From Giza
Art galleries and museums are a space for communicating stories and giving voices to issues through art. Shristi Sainani from the University of Melbourne explains how they ‘are looked at institutions that facilitate positive change’. It is because of their purpose to illustrate ideas and concepts that social inclusion is all the more important. Art galleries and museums should feature works from a diverse variety of groups and people to have their message heard by a wide audience. Art is an important vehicle of change but there are still many barriers to inclusivity. We’ll look at the different barriers to social inclusion within the arts and how digital art can help in closing the gap to promote a more inclusive environment.
Barriers to accessibility in art:
Social inclusion is the act of making all groups of people within a society feel valued and important. This should be reflected in art galleries and museums but there are limitations that we must address for accessibility to artists and audiences. Studies show that participation in the arts is socially patterned. Those with fewer educational qualifications, lower socioeconomic status and less income are less likely to engage in art.
Creative Future found that financial, physical and social issues are common barriers to participation for disabled and marginalised groups. Getting a place in a gallery to display your work can be expensive and challenging. There are physical limitations too when we consider the location of the gallery itself which may be difficult for some people to get to. On top of this, prestigious galleries and museums tend to lean towards favouring artists and contributors which they are already established with, making it even harder for new artists to find their way in. Today, we have come a long way in improving the accessibility of art galleries and museums but there is still room for improvement, particularly for those who are disadvantaged.
Cultivating inclusivity with digital art:
How can we promote inclusivity and make art galleries more accessible? Engaging with the wider community is important to make art more inclusive and reach all corners of society. As the world of digital advances, digital art and technologies is a great way we can achieve this. The Good Things Foundation Arts Council explain that ‘digital delivery has the potential to enhance inclusion within the arts and cultural sector through providing opportunities for people to enjoy content and experiences that they would not be able to access in-person.’ There is potential for more people to be involved in creating digital art and sharing it on a wider level. Digital art does not need to be limited by a physical location and can be shared further on a global level. The digital space is also a great way in which artists can connect and build a network to help improve their artistic confidence in sharing their work.
Studies have found that digital technologies can help those disadvantaged and vulnerable to be more included in society and the community as it acts as a tool for breaking down cultural, physical and intellectual barriers. Involving digital technologies can enhance exhibitions, galleries and museums. It is important to consider that to have people involved in digital art there needs to be resources and education provided.
Art27 are a great example of a platform that is promoting a socially inclusive and diverse art space. They bring together communities and artists across Europe to share art, education and resources with the support of digital mediums. Samantha Mash is one particular digital illustrator who advocates for social inclusion within her work. Her art is one of the ways she fights for social equality, defends ecology, and conservation using symbolism and human centrism..