What works in arts and culture outreach? 

By Nicola Pritchard 10 December 2018

Diversity, equality and inclusion are becoming defining issues of our time. And perhaps nowhere else have these issues had the greatest airing than in the arts, culture and media sectors. There, questions of representation and access become most clearly about who gets to be seen and heard—which stories are told and by whom.  

In all this, arts outreach plays a critical role. There are plenty of organisations and initiatives out there working to make the arts accessible to as many people as possible. But do we really know what works and why? What types of outreach genuinely reach people that would not have otherwise engaged in the arts and what impact does it have on their lives? 

We’re excited to be working on an in-depth review for the Mohn Westlake Foundation to find out, with aim of establishing a base for effectiveness and creating a useful resource for all those working in this space.   

Our research has three phases: 

Convening sector experts

We’re running a series of roundtables in late January to hear expert opinions on current outreach practice. If you are involved in arts outreach and are interested in taking part in these roundtables, we would love to hear from you.  

Reviewing existing evidence

The roundtables will be supported by an in-depth literature review drawing on evidence from around the world. The review will combine grey and academic literature to build a rounded picture of interventions and methodologies that work.  

Asking young people what they think

This third and critical phase will test the assumptions formed through the literature review and expert contributions. We’ll be asking and observing how young people engage with arts organisations and what value they draw from it. Through a series of roundtables with young people, we’ll hear about the experiences of those already involved in arts outreach programmes—as well as those who have not engaged—to find out why.  

We’ll be blogging about what we find as we go, with a full report launch event scheduled for mid-2019. If you would like to be involved in our expert or user roundtables, or have experiences you’d like to share, please get in touch