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Creation and programming

The most exciting thing in our action plan is our disability commission [an opportunity to commission a specific piece with disabled dancers planned for 2009-10) because it has the potential to make the biggest impact on our practise in general across the whole organisation - and it could just be really good! Ken Parry, Hampshire Dance

Creation and programming

How can what you do reflect diversity? For most involved in that arts, there is a balancing act in determining what to work on - what to create, what to programme or what to offer. Artists, funders, managers, audiences might all seem to want different things – and how do you add to this a request to ‘be more diverse’? Don’t just see it as a problem or something a funder wants you to you – if its not central to what you do already, find out why it should be.

Many people find it easy to think about all this in relation to diversifying their audience, or improving access to their venue, but find it harder to relate this process to artistic programming.

So what could you do?

You could look at what your artistic programme aims to do and then see where the idea of 'inclusion' fits with this, or where could it.

For example, one theatre repeatedly stated that for them, being 'new'/'cutting edge' is a factor - so they translated this to ensuring their action plan included new/cutting edge ways to engage with access, character, casting etc.

The artistic programme elements may then split into those about the art itself and those about the audience.

So for theatres the former might be about productions and programming. This can include casting, content - ie how they deal with disability as a subject in their programmes, and how it is contextualised if there is a piece which has a stereotypical portrayal in it, and how they will portray disability within pieces. It might also include how they balance programming, who they choose to bring in to share work and at what level.

The latter, audience access would be more about specific activities linked directly to productions than to general customer care - ie audio described, captioned and signed performances, but also touch tours (linked to ad performances) or introduction or orientation sessions and so on.

Here you can find some of the arguments for increasing diversity, some ways to overcome some of the most common barriers to diversification.