How do you measure emotion? Some conclusions on the Open All Areas Barcelona meeting

The project Open All Areas is a European program of exchange of knowledge between seven organisations that are working on the development of publics in culture.  The project aims to find ways of overcoming cultural exclusion and achieve access to culture for everyone.  Within the project different meetings are held to discuss and above all learn from others.  The entities linked to the project are Audiences Europe Network, Rotterdam Festivals, ECCOM, Danish Center for Arts&Interculture, Demos, Audiences Norway, Audiences Northern Ireland i ArticketBCN, and it has been possible to do so thanks to a Grundtvig subsidy from the European Union.

On November14th and 15th, it was the turn of Barcelona to organise the meeting, and led by the CCCB, a conference open to the public were organised in which the projects developed by local cultural entities about the inclusion of non-users of culture were presented. Most of these projects started small but are now good examples of good practices for other entities.

The Museu Picasso participated in the program by presenting its workshop of memory for older adults, “Picasso in the Memory” that started last year as a pilot project and which has become consolidated as a proposal the museum wants to develop.

After two intensive days of getting to know proposals and debating them in depth, in the final session of this event the organizers proposed that the task of putting together the conclusions on the many different issues we had been discussing, should be a participatory one.

We parted in four groups and each one defined the 4 or 5 main ideas that they were taking home with, which were in turn shared and put together.

Here are the main conclusions we came up with. These conclusions have also been posted in the blog created as a platform to share ideas and experiences, and we encourage all of you to post your reflections or your experiences in this field (in any language!).

It’s not about developing audiences: it’s about developing institutions. Let’s start with a two-sided conclusion. One the one hand, it refers to the learning process all institution workers have gone through while putting their proposal into practice, when most of them started out thinking they were the ones to “teach”. But on the other hand, it also reflects on the need for cultural institutions to integrate their social role and inclusion programs in its structure.

How do you measure emotion? The results and impact of most of the projects are intangible and long term, so it’s difficult to establish effective evaluation methods. Sharing your proposals and reflections will be as welcome as sharing your projects!

Prioritize construction of meaning. Content should always be the meeting point from which build and develop the relationship. Always keeping art and people at the centre of the project ensures results.

Be willing to be used  in ways you maybe didn’t plan on, but that are meaningful to the community you are addressing, and likely they’ll be meaningful to you. Being generous and responding to their needs with those resources that are specific to your institution will build trust and significant experiences.

Build bridges among institutions, among audiences, among sponsors, among fields of expertise… Search for synergy, resources and knowledge you need in others than can also build from your expertise. Share your knowledge and expertise and pay attention to what your colleagues are doing. It will allow your project to grow.

Be aware of the transformative, propagative power of your project. Inclusion leads to inclusion, which in turn leads to inclusion, and so on… repeat and grow, maybe by little steps, but always adding on.

No laws and no debates will ever be as important as being present. Presenting the results not only to the immediate environment of the social group you are working with, but to the society at large, will give groups at risk of social exclusion visibility, pride and respect: making public their potential empowers them.
Yes, that’s great, but we’re penniless! Most proposals are developed bottom-up, and usually the main budget available is illusion and commitment. To make them sustainable, think of low cost projects that use the already available in-house resources; involve the top of your institution and search for partners. And also be aware that working in social inclusion may open the door to financing that was not available before.

Anna Guarro
Head of Public Programs

Related links
Blog Open All Areas

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