As when a word is repeated over and over again it tends to lose its meaning, we found ourselves increasingly at a loss as to what inclusion actually means. And it seems we’re not alone in this. Looking around, we found a lot of people – other arts organisations, schools, government, etc. etc. – are using this word these days without necessarily being clear about what they mean. Perhaps inclusion is at risk of becoming nothing more than another buzz word; a word organisations like to use to sound impressive and to tick the boxes of funding bodies.
And yet we at FCA truly believe that we are an inclusive organisation. When we talk about inclusion we mean it in the sense that both disabled and non-disabled artists are welcomed as equals; events are marketed accessibly and widely and are hosted in accessible venues suited to our participants’ requirements with varying levels of support offered according to each individual’s needs.
But maybe inclusion means different things to different people?
In June, Michael and I attended a workshop titled Inclusive Practice, led by DIY Theatre Company and spent the session exploring a multitude of different ideas about what it is to be inclusive. It was an interesting and highly illuminating discussion and became the starting point for our Inclusion Project.
The Project began simply by asking people on Facebook to tell us what inclusion means to them. This developed into a creative project in which members of the public were invited to respond to the question “What does inclusion mean to you?” on the back of a postcard. We received around 30 postcards, either sent to us by post, emailed to us, or posted in our touring post box, which travelled around Manchester venues for a couple of months. The box was kindly hosted by BlankSpace, Nexus Art Café, CUBE and Cornerhouse, and also made an appearance at the Nip and Tipple pub in Whalley Range.
The project is officially closed, but if you’ve got an idea you’d like to share with us about what inclusion means to you, we’d still love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave comments.
Image 1. Inclusion Wordle
Image 2. 100% Involvement! (anon.)
Image 3. Inclusion means the freedom of expression (Sonny J. Barker)