A Separate Sense
|Organisation||Kirklees Community History Service|
|Region/location||Yorkshire/Huddersfield, Batley, Dewsbury|
|Programme strand||Regional Challenge|
|New Audiences grant||£7,160|
A Separate Sense aimed to build new audiences for a range of traditional museum spaces. It targeted 16-25 year olds among the south Asian community of west Yorkshire. A video was made which formed part of an exhibition. The project was a pilot for a sustainable model of audience development related to cultural diversity issues for museums across the region.
about lead organisation
Kirklees Community History Service, is part of the Cultural Services Department of Kirklees Metropolitan Council, which covers Huddersfield, Kirklees, Dewsbury and Batley. This project was a new venture for the Service, as part of its on-going work to make the museums of the area more attractive and accessible.
The project was an opportunity to learn about grass-roots community development, which could act as a sustainable model. KCHS was particularly interested in the integration of evaluation within audience development projects.
aims of the project
- To involve new, excluded audiences/participants in creative activities across Kirklees museum sites
- To make museum collections more accessible to socially excluded groups
- To build upon south Asian cultural heritage and identity
- To add to museum archives
- To facilitate communication and understanding between first and second or third generation South Asian communities
- To learn about grass-roots community development, which could act as a sustainable model for attracting new audiences who are not traditional attenders at museums
- To find eight core participants to make up the production team plus 30 extras, as interviewees and family members (secondary participants)
- To invite family and wider community audiences to the launch of the show, culminating in an exhibition
- To attract 6,000 general museum visitors to the exhibition, which would be open for six weeks
about the project
Attending video/film is a very popular family activity within the south Asian community. It was felt that making a video would enable participants to explore their identity and to engage with different aspects of their culture.
KCHS identified participants through Artimedia in Batley. The 16-25 age group was specifically chosen as a particular challenge to KCHS; having made progress in developing South Asian audiences in other generation groups.
The project hoped to find eight core participants but only three young women took part. KCHS appointed a female guardian for the girls due to cultural sensitivity.
The group made a video, and during the process also explored technical issues, participation, museology and collection care. The individuals took the camera home to their personal spaces and this became a large feature of the finished exhibition.
There was a commitment from each key participant of the production team to take responsibility for evaluation from the start of the project. This was tied in with the training programme and each individual kept detailed records of the process, while questionnaires and interviews were used to collect evidence.
The Community History Service was also in a position to build upon existing council documentation and surveys linked to issues of cultural heritage and access. Information was available on issues of identity, cultural access and working models from the Yorkshire and Humberside Museums Council, Cultural Diversity Forum.
about the audience
A Separate Sense was premiered at Dewsbury Town Hall, providing the central focus in the Festival of Cultures. The installation was displayed at Bagshaw Museum, Batley and Tolson Museum, Huddersfield, attracting approximately 24,000 people over a six-month period, four times the original target.
outcomes and lessons learned
KCHS was initially disappointed that only three young women participated, but reflected that the project had probably benefited, as the young women were more mature than many of the young men approached, and in-depth discussions about feelings and identity could have been difficult in a mixed group.
Although the number of participants was small, the video itself suggests that the project has succeeded in having a positive impact for the participants with regard to: young people exploring their sense of identity; learning to articulate their sense of self; becoming conscious of aspects of their identity, for example, being a member of the Gujarati community; and providing young people with ways to overcome set classifications of identity.
The team felt that it would have been better to have a longer period of time in which to work, but this was one of the elements being tested through this intensive and creative project.
KCHS would like to use this work to get a response from young men and perhaps pilot a similar project with them. Although the girls had been apprehensive initially about who would see the video, the response has been very positive from the participantsí friends, family and other attenders of the exhibition.