In 2019, in response to a Discussion Paper prepared by Milton Keynes Culture Team, AHA-MK proposed a programme of research to take a hard look at how well our arts and heritage sector engages with our diverse communities, with particular reference to gender, disability, race, religion or belief, class, sexual orientation and social mobility. Milton Keynes Council commissioned and funded AHA-MK to undertake this work and deliver an Inclusion Action Plan for Culture. Inclusion and diversity are central to the Milton Keynes Creative and Cultural Strategy, the Arts Council England’s Creative Case for Diversity, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
AHA-MK conducted 12 focus groups with diverse communities and ran a survey with the cultural sector. Our arts and heritage sector is one of the key pillars of future growth and is fundamental to placemaking, with its aim to inspire, and to create a sense of belonging, wellbeing and civic pride. However, there is much work to do to engage our diverse communities to make the sector truly diverse and inclusive. The report we created presents recommendations resulting from our research, and has resulted in a dynamic action plan to take the sector forward to the next stage of this journey of inclusion and diversity.
Read the summary report that outlines our findings and includes our recommendations here: http://aha-mk.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/AHA_INCLUSION_AND_DIVERSITY_REPORT_SUMMARY_ATTACHED.pdf
Read the supporting documents that detail the focus group findings and sector survey here: http://aha-mk.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/AHA_INCLUSION_AND_DIVERSITY_REPORT_SUPPORTING_DOC1-1.pdf
The programme will begin with inspirational talks and workshops for the sector, and offer the organisations a chance to meet and strengthen relationships with new communities. A city-wide inclusion manifesto will be created and signed by the cultural sector. The second phase of the programme will feature 6 artist commissions that creatively connect diverse communities with mainstream cultural spaces and networks. After the commissions, it is hoped that AHA-MK will work with the sector and communities to develop these relationships, and continue the journey towards a more inclusive Milton Keynes.
MK Council awarded AHA-MK over £50,000 to run six cultural traineeships for young people from diverse backgrounds. AHA-MK will work with organisations in the sector to deliver these and act as a mentor for the trainees. Two of the trainees will be offered apprenticeship placements in the sector, and the other four will be offered other career development pathways. The trainees will be invited to be part of AHA-MK’s young cultural ambassador’s scheme which will link in with the youth-led work run by AHA-MK’s cultural education strand MAKE.