Tertiary arts and social inclusion: A voice for the voiceless?

By Jenny Wilson

Commenting on the release of the latest report into New Zealanders and the Arts earlier this month, Prime Minister Jacinda Aderne said ‘I believe arts and creativity are integral and inseparable parts of what it is to be human’.

Meanwhile in Australia, Rupert Myer AO, in his introduction to this year’s Nick Waterlow Memorial Lecture, explained how the Sydney Biennale represents ‘the plurality of ideas, the broad views of histories and hugely diverse interpretations of the present that save us from the narrow views and propaganda of some.”  

Both these views stress the importance of creative arts to capture and include the experiences of citizens whose voices may not typically be heard.

In this edition of NiTRO, we highlight just a few examples of how tertiary and creative arts is seeking to ‘give a voice to the voiceless’ as Robert L Lynch famously declared.

Natalie Lazaroo (Griffith) explains how community theatre creates a sense of inclusion for Singapore’s disadvantaged youth;

Alison Wotherspoon (Flinders) explains how filmmaking is providing the evidence for research and interventions in social settings such as her work on bullying and cyberbullying in India;

Jordan Lacey (RMIT) discusses the role of art in reflecting and capturing the voice of Australia’s ‘urban fringe’ communities;

Clint Bracknell (Sydney Conservatorium), explains how music is ensuring an ongoing connection to language and Country;  

Sonja Pedell (Swinburne) describes how art is enhancing the capacity for people with dementia and their families to communicate;

Shaun McNiff (Lesley University), prompts us to ask whether the assumptions and practices held within the arts, and art schools, themselves threaten and limit its capacity for inclusion and representation.