The aim of Outreach Europe is to map and research into how museums, galleries and cultural institutions across Europe engage with an audience beyond the traditional means of outreach. The main topics are:
a) How they reach marginalised groups
b) Investigate the link between cultural/social participation and well being
c) How they include volunteers from non-traditional Groups
The project’s research was conducted in four stages;
- A survey of institutions who through their website or other means offered outreach programmes. We asked the institutions to describe: target groups, specific programmes, outcome and impact on the target group. 47 practical examples have been collected – a variety of museums, galleries and other cultural institutions throughout Europe.
- A survey by the “users” of museums was undertaken by teachers who had attended a one week training course on museology run by the partner Elderberry AB in several European locations and a museum practioner in the UK, organised by the SLaM partner. Participants completed the survey in their home country and in the location of the course. 95 surveys were completed in 27 EU countries.
- A detailed case study, highlighting an outreach programme at the South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust; The Journeys of Appreciation Programme (JOAP) – developed by the SLaM partner
- An international conference of experts held in April 2015 in London to discuss the results of the project.
The research and a case study has been built on existing knowledge and already completed studies – among those:
‘Whose cake is it anyway?’
A report commissioned by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, concludes that outreach and participation exist on the fringes of the sector’s activities, rather than at its core, and suggests that decades of investment in participation-related activity, funded on a project-by-project basis, have not only failed to embed participatory practices in museums and galleries, but appear to have been instrumental in keeping this part of their work on the periphery. As a result, communities do not feel a true sense of ownership of their museums and galleries, and consider themselves to be ‘beneficiaries’ rather than active partners of their work (Arts Professional, Issue no 238, 2011, UK).
Art into Life: gallery workshops for older adults
A report from SLAM measured significant positive impact on mental well-being on older adults with mental health problems and dementia who participated in inclusive and interactive gallery workshops at Tate Modern, Art into Life. Having access to a positively regarded and prestigious shared public space, and participants experiencing the freedom of an open space where different kinds of interaction and engagement took place was beneficial. This also raised comparisons with how people felt about the ward environment which was perceived as less therapeutic. The activities enabled people to get involved in group activities, express their views, make connections with their “life stories” and feel a sense of belonging and connection to the gallery.