When in 2011 Uwe Derksen, Assistant Director Research + Enterprise at the University for the Creative Arts, developed the Interregional Culture-led Regeneration (ICR) project that was subsequently approved by the European Commission for Interreg funding, he was keen not only to create a framework that could best extract the best added value through the collaboration of art schools and other cultural stakeholders and their engagement in the wider communities, but also to ensure that the various interventions recognized our civic duties and helped to raise our democratic awareness. In the funding application he therefore quoted Javiev Pérez de Cuéllar (5th Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1982 to 1991):
“We aim to have shown them how culture shapes all our thinking, imagining and behaviour. It is the transmission of behaviour as well as a dynamic source for change, creativity, freedom and the awakening of innovative opportunities. For groups and societies, culture is energy, inspiration and empowerment, as well as the knowledge and acknowledgment of diversity. Just as in the tasks of building peace and consolidating democratic values, an indivisible set of goals, so too economic and political rights cannot be realized separately from social and cultural rights”.
The ICR partnership subsequently dealt within the various artistic and cultural interventions implicitly with the issue of equal opportunities and accessibility in the arts as well as the focus of the arts. The ICR website www.creativeecology.eu provides some example of the kind interventions that were collaboratively implemented.
However the ICR partnership also identified that there is very little formal guidance on implementing equal opportunity policies referred to by local authorities and funders of the arts for artists or small arts organisations and groups, and many of these organisations simply refer to general Equal Opportunity policy based organisations.
Disability Arts Online was therefore approached by the ICR partnership to produce a publication on equal opportunities that specifically relates to the Creative Arts/Industries.
This publication maps areas of best practice from a Creative Case approach to equal opportunities in both England and France. Whilst it is not claiming to provide all the answers or cover every aspect of this vast field, particularly in France where it was challenging to make contact and reseach from afar, it does offer some tangible examples of how a Creative Case approach to equal opportunities results in high quality arts experiences for all.
‘A Creative Case Approach to Equal Opportunities’ was authored by artist Kristina Veasey, who writes regularly for Disability Arts Online. She has been an equality and diversity consultant and trainer for 12 years. Kristina is a Social Policy graduate from Brighton University and her background is in advocacy and inclusion primarily with disabled children and young people.