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by Dr Kate Hatton

To make arts education inclusive is a work in progress. But Is it not an area in which creative practice is encouraged and where all such variety of creative expression is allowed? Accessing art education is easy, surely, as long as you are ‘creative’?

It doesn’t always work that way.

The long-held assumptions about what constitutes art, and whose art is worthy of study, are already being widely scrutinized. And there are questions of identity in relation to higher arts education that necessitate a focus on equality and diversity: on race, gender, class, dis/ability, class, and the inter sectional nature of identity. All this got collaborative dialogue going in various arts education institutions – bringing people together to work on inclusion ideas in different fields of art.

For art education to work successfully for its diverse cohorts, students’ creative and social identities need to be understood and addressed within the curriculum. We involved students in the process of researching inclusion, as some of the chapters relate. Their research led students into journeys of discovery at London galleries as well as in the studio/lecture hall, so making art education research both inclusive and fun.

The staff in these art education settings researched ways to promote themes around the psychological and philosophical contexts of arts based learning. They engaged with key matters of exclusion and sought curriculum solutions, such as counterstorytelling, post colonial encounters, and workshop-based teaching practices. And they applied theories drawn from other disciplines, such as critical race theory and critical disability studies.

The result marks a stage in a long and essential transformation of the ways to teach art and a signposts the direction forward. Towards an Inclusive Arts Education questions the fundamental assumptions we make about the arts, about art and design education, and about students and the institutions they attend. And it postulates some answers, shaping a new approach to arts education and an exciting and original setting for new forms of creative practice to emerge, benefiting all students, the staff and the reputation of the institutions.

Dr Kate Hatton is Head of Inclusive Education Programmes at University of the Arts, London. Her book,Towards an Inclusive Arts Education, published by Trentham Books at IOE Press is out now.

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