Inclusive Art Spaces: Tips & Best Practices
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Embrace diversity in art exhibitions
  2. Promote accessibility in art spaces
  3. Provide inclusive educational programs
  4. Ensure representation in curation and management
  5. Commit to ongoing training and awareness
  6. Engage the community in dialogue and participation
  7. How to handle criticism and feedback
  8. Evaluate and improve the inclusiveness of art spaces

Art is a universal language that transcends cultural, social, and geographical boundaries. It's a powerful medium that can inspire, provoke thought, and bring people together. However, for art to truly have an impact, it must be accessible to all. This is where inclusive art spaces come into play. Inclusive art spaces are environments where everyone, regardless of their background, can experience and engage with art. But how can we create such spaces? This blog post will offer tips and best practices to help you create an inclusive art space.

Embrace Diversity in Art Exhibitions

One of the first steps in creating inclusive art spaces is embracing diversity in art exhibitions. This means giving a platform to artists from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. It's about showcasing a wide range of art forms, styles, and themes that reflect the rich tapestry of our global community.

  • Feature a variety of artists: Don't limit your exhibitions to well-known or established artists. Give emerging artists, local talents, and underrepresented groups a chance to shine. This not only diversifies your exhibition but also nurtures fresh talent and perspectives in the art world.
  • Explore different themes and styles: From traditional to contemporary, abstract to figurative, western to eastern, there's a whole world of art out there. By exploring different themes and styles, you make your art space more appealing to a wider audience.
  • Showcase art from different cultures: Art is a reflection of culture. By showcasing art from different cultures, you not only enrich your exhibition but also promote cultural understanding and appreciation.

Remember, the goal is not just to fill your art space with diverse art, but to create an environment where everyone can see themselves represented and feel welcome. Embracing diversity in art exhibitions is a great way to start creating more inclusive art spaces.

Promote Accessibility in Art Spaces

While diversity in art exhibitions is crucial, it's equally important to ensure that these exhibitions are accessible to everyone. Promoting accessibility in art spaces means removing physical and attitudinal barriers that may prevent people from fully experiencing the art.

  • Physical Accessibility: Consider how people with mobility issues, such as those who use wheelchairs, can navigate your space. Wide aisles, ramps, and accessible restrooms are a must. But also consider other details, like the height at which artworks are displayed, so they're visible to everyone.
  • Sensory Accessibility: Think about how people with sensory impairments, like those who are visually or hearing impaired, can engage with your exhibitions. Tactile tours, Braille descriptions, and sign language interpreters can make a big difference.
  • Intellectual Accessibility: Not everyone who visits your art space may be familiar with art jargon or concepts. Simple, clear explanations of artworks and themes can help make your exhibitions more understandable and enjoyable for everyone.

Inclusive art spaces are not just about the artworks on display, but also about how everyone can enjoy them. So, when planning your next exhibition, remember to promote accessibility in your art space.

Provide Inclusive Educational Programs

Education is a powerful tool in the world of art. It helps visitors understand the meaning behind the works, the context in which they were created, and the artists' intention. Therefore, offering inclusive educational programs is a key component in creating inclusive art spaces.

  • Inclusive Art Workshops: Organizing art workshops that cater to people of all abilities and backgrounds can be a great way to introduce them to the world of art. These could include hands-on crafting sessions, painting classes, or even digital art sessions. The key is to offer a variety of workshops that cater to different interests and abilities.
  • Art History Lessons: Art history is the backbone of any art education program. By offering lessons that cover a wide range of periods, styles, and cultures, you can ensure that everyone feels represented and included.
  • Artist Talks and Q&A Sessions: Inviting artists to talk about their work and answer questions can be a great way to engage the community. Ensure these sessions are accessible to everyone by providing sign language interpreters or captioning services.

By providing inclusive educational programs, you're not only enriching the visitor experience but also fostering a sense of community in your art space. Remember, education is not a one-size-fits-all solution — it should be as diverse and inclusive as the art it represents.

Ensure Representation in Curation and Management

One of the most impactful ways to create inclusive art spaces is by ensuring diversity in curation and management. This implies having a variety of voices and perspectives involved in the decision-making process. It's about ensuring everyone has a seat at the table — not just in the audience, but behind the scenes as well.

  • Diverse Curatorial Team: A team of curators from different backgrounds can bring a wide range of perspectives to the table. This can result in a more diverse selection of artworks being chosen for exhibitions and a more inclusive narrative being told.
  • Inclusive Management Practices: Inclusive management goes beyond just hiring a diverse team. It also involves creating a workplace culture that respects and values everyone's contributions. This can be as simple as having regular team meetings where everyone has a chance to voice their ideas and concerns, to more comprehensive policies that protect against discrimination.
  • Artists' Representation: Inclusive art spaces should also ensure that artists from all backgrounds get the chance to showcase their work. This could involve hosting open call exhibitions, where artists of any experience level can submit their work, or partnering with local art schools and community organizations to discover new talent.

By ensuring representation in curation and management, you're not just creating an inclusive art space — you're setting a standard for the rest of the art world to follow.

Commit to Ongoing Training and Awareness

In the journey towards creating inclusive art spaces, learning is a constant process. It's not enough to make one-time changes and then consider the job done. Instead, it's about creating a culture of ongoing learning and awareness.

  • Training Programs: Regularly scheduled training programs designed to increase awareness and understanding of diversity and inclusion can be a game-changer. These programs can cover a wide range of topics, from unconscious bias to cultural sensitivity.
  • Guest Speakers and Workshops: Inviting guest speakers from diverse backgrounds, or hosting workshops on various aspects of diversity and inclusion can provide fresh insights. These sessions can also encourage open, respectful discussions among team members.
  • Resources and Reading Materials: Making resources available to your team members can help them learn at their own pace. This could include books, articles, podcasts, or documentaries about diversity and inclusion in art spaces.

Remember, the goal of these efforts is not to 'check a box' or to avoid criticism. Instead, it's about genuinely striving to understand and appreciate the diverse experiences and perspectives that make up our world. It's this commitment to ongoing learning and growth that truly makes art spaces inclusive.

Engage the Community in Dialogue and Participation

Building inclusive art spaces isn't a solitary endeavor — it's a community project. So, how do we ensure that we're hearing from as many voices as possible? The answer lies in dialogue and participation.

  • Open Forums: Hosting open forums allows for the exchange of ideas and feedback from the community. These can be organized onsite or online, giving everyone a chance to provide their input about the art space.
  • Community Art Projects: Collaborative art projects not only produce beautiful artworks, but they also foster a sense of belonging. Encourage local artists and community members to contribute to a mural or sculpture, for example.
  • Surveys and Feedback: Regularly ask for feedback from visitors, artists, and staff. Surveys can be an effective tool for understanding the community's needs and expectations. Remember, you're not just gathering data, you're inviting conversation.

When you create avenues for conversation and collaboration, you also create a sense of ownership and belonging within the community. This collective sense of ownership is at the heart of truly inclusive art spaces.

How to Handle Criticism and Feedback

Creating inclusive art spaces can be a challenging process, and not everyone will always agree with your decisions. That's why handling criticism and feedback gracefully is so important.

  • Hear Them Out: When someone voices a concern or critique, listen with an open mind. Even if you don't fully agree, there's likely something valuable you can learn from their perspective.
  • Stay Calm: Feedback, especially negative feedback, can be hard to hear. But getting defensive won't help. Stay calm, take a deep breath, and consider the feedback from an objective standpoint.
  • Communicate Clearly: Let the person know that you've heard them and value their input. If you decide to make changes based on their feedback, let them know. If not, explain why — but be respectful and understanding in your response.
  • Know When to Let Go: You can't please everyone. If someone is consistently negative or disruptive, it might be best to part ways. Remember, your goal is to create an inclusive art space, not a battleground.

Remember, feedback is a gift. It provides you with the opportunity to learn, grow, and improve your art space. So, welcome it with open arms, handle it with care, and use it to create a better, more inclusive space for everyone.

Evaluate and Improve the Inclusiveness of Art Spaces

As you navigate the path to greater inclusivity in art spaces, it's essential to pause periodically and take stock of your progress. What's working? What isn't? Here are some tips on how to evaluate and improve the inclusiveness of your art spaces.

  • Ask for Input: Reach out to your community and ask for their insights. What do they love about your space? What improvements would they like to see? Use this feedback to make your art space even more inclusive.
  • Measure Success: Come up with ways to quantify your success. This could be anything from tracking the diversity of artists exhibited to monitoring the demographics of visitors. These metrics will help you see where you're doing well and where you could improve.
  • Keep Learning: Stay informed about best practices for inclusivity in the art world. There's always more to learn, and the more you know, the better you can make your space.
  • Make Changes: Don't be afraid to shake things up. If something isn't working, change it. If something is working well, think about how you can do more of it.

Creating truly inclusive art spaces is an ongoing journey, not a destination. By continually evaluating and improving, you can ensure that your space is always growing, evolving, and becoming more welcoming to all.

If you're inspired by the idea of creating inclusive art spaces and want to learn more about building a sustainable career in the arts, check out Rosa van Iterson's workshop, 'Building A Sustainable Career As A Multidisciplinary Artist.' This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and tips to navigate the art world while fostering inclusivity and diversity in your creative projects.