An online platform for inclusive cultural participation and socio-artistic encounter

We have all experienced what it is like to live without art and culture during the Corona lockdowns, when we were deprived of what seemed so obvious. Art and culture provides us with pleasure, relaxation, but also meaning and interpretation to life as it happens. They offer us opportunities to provide for ourselves and to uphold social contacts through which we can relate to each other and feel human among people.

Even without these lockdowns, people with mental or physical disabilities experience in many ways that they cannot participate in art and culture as they would like. Fortunately, there are more and more social-artistic entrepreneurs who focus on these groups, but the knowledge about how to do this well is still little shared and supply and demand do not always meet.

In the KIEM project “Mogelijk Maken van Inclusieve Cultuurparticipatie (MoMIC) [Enabling Inclusive Cultural Participation]” we are designing an inclusive online platform for cultural participation through a concept that will enable better matching of supply and demand. 

HAN University of Applied Sciences and ArtEZ University of the Arts collaborate with Theater Klare Taal, Speels Collectief, Diva Dichtbij, Rock en Rolstoel Producties, a designer of Buro302, care institution Siza, and Cultuur Oost to make cultural participation more accessible and natural for these target groups. We strive for inclusiveness in the form of this platform and its content, and by making room for the voices and products of the participants - or rather: the artists - from the socio-artistic practices. We want the experience and knowledge of the wishes and needs of participants by social-artistic entrepreneurs to be leading in the design.

To do this well, we work with and for social-artistic providers, their participants, and care professionals in a learning community. Through participatory action research we use current insights from research and practice to develop a joint design of a streaming platform for socio-cultural activities. This platform symbolizes the encounter between the world of social care on the one side and the world of art and culture on the other. In doing so, we use the Art Dialogue Methods (ADM) approach, and we work with visual reports that explore themes and new possibilities.

Image report of first meeting MoMIC where participants were asked "what do you think inclusive cultural participation means?".Image Silvia Russel, 2021, 150 cm x 240 cm charcoal, pencil on paper

Firstly, the project contributes to better social participation and well-being of target groups with a chronic condition or disability. Secondly, the project contributes to the development of economic opportunities and professionalization for social-artistic entrepreneurs who, with the platform, can better connect with their target group. Finally, the project aims to make activities in the field of art and culture more findable for caregivers and their clients.

"If artistic and cultural activities are widely accessible, this could be an essential contribution to supporting vulnerable people in their daily lives within society to be who they want to be and do what they want to do." 

The joint search and design process in the learning community is still in full swing, and the streaming platform is steadily taking shape. We are gaining various insights from the process and the platform-in-progress. It turns out, for example, that an authentic art-based dialogue about inclusion and encounter provides a rich picture of the various meanings of art and culture for social welfare. The project also shows that a good content-based encounter and collaboration of the art domain and the social domain has great potential in improving the overall well-being of people in everyday life. In short: if artistic and cultural activities are widely accessible, this could be an essential contribution to supporting vulnerable people in their daily lives within society to be who they want to be and do what they want to do. 

The associated artifact is a visual representation of the project-rhizome. It consists of a web of connections between ideas, opinions, theories, materials, and actors for which meaning is sought, made, and given in the project. A characteristic of a rhizome is that you can seek access to it from various angles and that there is no predetermined unambiguous arrangement.