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Do you ever read something and go YES? To be fair I knew these statistics, that showed that those most highly engaged in cultural activity tend to be the most privileged, well educated and relatively well-off. Or as Lena Jancovich states in ‘Great art for everyone? Engagement and participation policy in the arts’ (2011) ‘the social composition of those who participate in the arts in Britain today – who remain predominantly white and middle class.’

I came across a term I wasn’t aware of  ‘Cultural Democracy’, however it struck a chord so explored further. 

“The term Cultural Democracy describes an approach to arts and culture that actively engages everyone in deciding what counts as culture, where it happens, who makes it, and who experiences it. It is not a new concept, but it’s one that seems to be gaining focus across arts and culture.”

As stated in ‘Cultural Democracy in Practice’ (2018) by 64 Million Artists rather than a democratisation where what constitutes ‘art’ is still determined, mediated and dominated by a predominantly white middle-class demographic. Cultural Democracy is a state in which everyone feels empowered to actively participate in the broadest range of cultural activity, where people are active participants in the creative process.

That conversations we had when devising the Gala Pool Arts Project brief and artists callout was very much influenced by the need to create something that local people were active participants and that reflected the communities of Balsall Heath…something much more than viewers.

You can read more about diversity in the arts – or lack of it – in this article on from Audience Finder about their 2016 survey that raised important questions about the inclusivity of arts organisations.