At MakeMore Arts, we don’t particularly like the term audience – we would like those who come to arts and heritage venues to feel like participants. We prefer it when everyone is actively involved in shaping their own learning, rather than passively watching others impart information.
We’re striving to be as accessible as we can be and welcome participants from a range of backgrounds.
We don’t ever want anyone to feel excluded, marginalised or undervalued.
We recognise that nearly everyone exhibits unconscious bias and try to be self-reflective to question our own attitudes and approach. These biases can influence how we all perceive and interact with others, leading to unintentional and often subtle forms of discrimination. We know addressing unconscious bias is an ongoing process and we’re willing to put the work in.
In the spirit of openness, we wanted to share our approach to working with participants and the steps that we’re taking to be accessible.
We regularly reflect on and update this, but get in touch if you see anything on our site that you feel needs addressing. We know that terminology can be very sensitive and we won’t be offended if you pick us up on something.
We always try to be specific and clear about the communities we are working with and celebrate bilingual and multilingual participants, neurodiversity, and all individuals regardless of sexuality or gender, ethnicity or race. We hope that nobody feels unable to engage with us. We also take active steps to ensure that our activities can be accessed by everyone, regardless of income or socio-economic background.
Steps we are taking to increase access to arts, culture and heritage through our work
We make our work as accessible as we can by providing activities and engagement for free at the point of access as often as possible. We do this by applying for grant funding and working with partners, including libraries across the region. Each year, we run free sessions accessed by hundreds of individuals.
We take arts, culture and heritage into schools and community groups – we think this helps to break down access barriers. We’re very conscious of the costs and difficulty of transport, particularly in rural areas, so we plan our projects around this. In 2021, in her role with the National Literacy Trust, Rosie set up a network with local food banks across the North Yorkshire Coast to increase access to books and literature. We want everyone to have access to the arts and for nobody to feel excluded.
In 2022, we were very grateful to Scarborough Museums and Galleries for providing funding for transport for our Creatures of Curiosity project, so that more children could access cultural venues. We know that the cost of coaches can be prohibitive. We also provided free access to the exhibition which was held at Nunnington Hall, a National Trust property, for all participants.
We co-produce exhibitions with the community, sharing art made by professionals and in our workshops alongside each other with equal priority. We believe it’s aspirational and exciting for people to have their artwork exhibited in professional spaces, so we build this into our projects.
We try to make our resources available digitally for free – so please like and share them. Our latest large-scale project is Out of the Box, a new website which aims to increase access to hundreds of heritage and cultural objects for schools and community groups.
We often build projects that help to narrow the attainment gap – oracy is a big part of our work. During Covid lockdowns, the oracy-gap or spoken-language gap increased, so we’re working with museums across Yorkshire to address this. We take a partnership approach because we believe good things happen faster and better when we work together.
Our school partners are often selected based on available data about the numbers of pupils on roll who are eligible for Free School Meals. This helps us identify where we can make the biggest impact. We consult this website for up to date data: Get Information about Schools – GOV.UK (get-information-schools.service.gov.uk)
We collect anonymous feedback from our participants – anonymity is an important part of the process so that we get honest and constructive feedback to help us improve. We evaluate projects robustly, share our findings and learn from them as self-reflective practitioners.
As well as delivering sector training sessions, we regularly share what we are learning and build CPD opportunities into our projects. In recent years, Rosie has presented at the AIM annual conference, the GEM conference, the Yorkshire and Humberside Museums Federation bi-annual conference and the Social History Curator’s Group conference.
Ethics are at the heart of our work. We try to develop projects with sensitivity and integrity. You can find out more about our approach through our case studies.