We continue to work with an open source approach to programming, where proposals from across all communities are welcomed and supported with a collaborative approach to resources. Access for audiences is a priority, keeping prices low or offering events for free, with a focus on events that give audiences the opportunity to engage actively with artists and with a programme that connects a broad range of issues. We are now working to deepen our engagement with audiences and communities, and support universal access to the arts.
We’re aware that we can’t rely on the good work of our programme partners to fulfil a quota of accessible approaches, but we’re lucky to work with many partners who are explicitly focused on inclusion; we learn a lot from how other organisations structure their work and how they prioritise accessibility. Long-time open-source collaborators Independance – an inclusive dance company providing creative movement/dance classes, training and performance opportunities for people with learning disabilities, their carers and volunteers – host weekly classes our theatre space. Their innovative approach has developed from its own creative process, providing an environment which is safe and appropriate for the needs of all participants.
Another organisation leading on equalities is SQIFF (Scottish Queer International Film Festival), who prioritise accessibility and diversity within their programme, providing BSL interpretation, English subtitles and, for this year’s festival, audio description. They also ask venues to provide gender neutral toilets, and ask all staff and volunteers working on the festival to be aware of acknowledging and respecting difference amongst audiences to make sure every visitor is comfortable and has a good experience.
Scottish Queer International Film Festival. Photography by Virginia De.
Our friends and Cultural Tenants Paragon Music use music to improve people’s lives, increasing access to opportunities to create and perform new music, and engaging with related disciplines such as dance, drama and visual art. Through inclusive workshops and performances, they generate learning and social opportunities for people of all ages and from a wide variety of groups in the community, including people with additional support needs. We always look up to Paragon as examples of best working practice and learn a huge amount from how they work.
The Scottish Mental Health and Arts Film Festival regularly programme events at CCA which challenge preconceived ideas about mental health, including their new festival Declaration which explores health and human rights. Other events happening at CCA throughout the year include Africa in Motion, who organise screenings focused on African stories and host industry professionals from the continent, and we also collaborate frequently with the brilliant GRAMNet– Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migrant Network, who bring together researchers, policy makers and practitioners working with migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.
Despite working with many brilliant partners, the diversity of our core programme and its audience is something that will always require attention. Through our public engagement programme, we aim to widen and deepen our connection with the public and specifically with community groups that we have previously failed to reach. In addition to specific projects, CCA wants to build a programme that generates a continuous dialogue with audiences around our open source policy: how to extend that idea and understand what more access to the building and programme could mean; how this model could be exported to other organisations or places; and what we can learn from other models ourselves. It’s important that we think and debate current social issues and bring them in to the programme too.
As well as acting through exhibitions and events, we have also conducted significant access improvement work in the building itself over the past two years. In the spring of 2015, CCA was part of the accessible tourism pilot project in Glasgow, which was led by VisitScotland and Euan’s Guide. This resulted in the development of an extensive access statement for CCA which is available on our website, and from our box office as a large print version. All of our front of house staff have completed Visit Scotland’s access training, and we are working on building improvements including access loops, clearer signage and improved movement throughout our spaces. In March 2016, CCA took part in Disabled Access Day, a nationwide event which encourages disabled visitors to try something new and for venues to be more aware of the specific requirements of audiences. Our work in this area is ongoing and we welcome any feedback or suggestions on how we can improve and develop.
Our future vision centres on continuing to widen this access and
making people aware of the resources and support that we can offer, as
well as considering what new programming or activity we could put in
place to encourage visitors from different backgrounds. We are
committed to access as an organisation, both for audiences and in encouraging people from all backgrounds to join our staff and board. This challenge will be ongoing, but through the good work of our partners and the development of our own programme, hopefully we can make more people aware that we are a cultural hub for all kinds of people and practices, and that we are open to everyone.
Editorial first published in July - August 2016 CCA Brochure.