Integrated Arts

Fast Track Inclusion fulfills its social innovation vision by carrying out targeted learning projects that are directly applicable to enriching the quality of everyday life of people and families coping with disability. the concept of inclusion is embraced by the disabled community who justifiably want to claim their place in their communities... but is our society matching this interest by opening its arms to embrace people with disabilities and mental illness? ... well errrrr... not yet. Fast Track Inclusion looked at the art world and asked: is mainstream art open to a diverse and inclusive membership? Quick hint: no. 

Research has proven that community input is central to marginalised artists being able to contribute. Mainstream art practice options, however, are rarely available to people with communication or social challenges. This is our signal to create an integrative art space to provide this group with knowledge to explore and enter contribute to their communities whilst showcasing their talent. 

Internationally New Zealand is behind with the lack of inclusion of disabled artists into mainstream creative opportunities. Research has demonstrated that our marginalised artists face significant barriers preventing them from accessing mainstream art opportunities. Currently Hamilton has a number of community art centres where marginalised artists can learn and exhibit together but there are few opportunities for them to access mainstream or able-bodied art activities.

Supporting disabled artists to access integrated creative environments with mainstream artists will in turn benefit all. This approach supports the New Zealand Disability Strategy Action Plan Objective 9 relating to the rights of disabled people to access mainstream opportunities.

The membership and supporting organisations of the community collective we belong to includes national organisations operating in the arts and community sectors, local disability and mental health organisations, community and business representatives, the Hamilton City Council, local members and organisations from the arts community. The leadership group that drives this initiative is composed of 40 people from the above organisations as well as local community artists, art therapy practitioners, disabled artists and community representatives.

OUR OBJECTIVES
  • Advance Waikato towards a fully inclusive creative community
  • Promote appropriate and effective art settings for disabled and mainstream artists needs
  • Provide opportunities for disabled people to experience mainstream arts activities
  • Facilitate encounters that will grow the leadership of marginalised artists
  • Increase awareness about disability issues and inclusion
  • Monitor, evaluate and promote this innovative integrated arts model
Collaborative approaches build on the process of intuitive art making where participants learn from each other and gain unique art perspectives. We are planning activities whereby artists, including those living with disability or mental illness will interact with community organisations and community/arts leaders and mainstream artists.

We plan community development to benefit all participants. For the first time in New Zealand, disabled artists will experience full participation and inclusion as artists in mainstream art activities and increase their skills and potential as art leaders. Disabled artists will also be introduced to potential channels and art opportunities including ‘Outsider Arts and Markets’ already established in Europe and the USA but not yet in New Zealand. This will open opportunities never envisaged in the disabled community before.

Their artistic journey will be exhibited in a community art gallery around the city. Creative Waikato will display the artwork produced by these artists as they describe their interactions with community and art leaders.

The project’s evaluation includes documenting the artists’ journeys through a documentary that will be part of the final gallery exhibition. The final gallery exhibition will capture the programme from conception to completion demonstrating inclusive community art.