Click here to Jane Trengove`s speech

Jane Trengove: What inclusive arts practice means to
Speech delivered at Arts Access Victoria’s Beyond Access
resources launch at Melbourne Town Hall on Wednesday
20 May 2015.
Today I was asked to talk to you about what inclusive
practice means to me.
Well, what it means to me as an artist with a disability, and
what I hope it might mean to others who are interested in
the arts, is that inclusive practice is a way to bring in new
ideas, methods, perspectives and audiences to the
By this I do not mean lowering the standard of arts
practice to be inclusive of everyone in a patronizing
tolerance of less good art. Art is derived from a long
cultural history with its own traditions, practices,
technique, skills concepts and ideas.
Therefore, inclusive arts must be able to sustain a level of
practice that will proficiently stimulate and engage
audiences. And at the same time it should mean the
broadening of how art is understood by artists, the arts
institutions and audiences.
I was also asked: Can mainstream methodologies of
creation and curation accommodate an inclusive practice?
We need to be clear about what is meant by “the
mainstream” in the context of what this project [Beyond
Access; the creative case for inclusive arts practice] is
aiming to achieve. When we say “mainstream” we mean
to infer art practice at all levels and where the majority of
arts practice takes place. This includes the powerful
bureaucracy that officiates over contemporary art.
So there is a need for the mainstream to have the will to
be inclusive. And this will always depend on the
gatekeepers. No matter how interesting an idea or an
artist, those with their hands on the levers always decide
what is, or is not, included.
And with “inclusive” arts practice – it takes a bit of effort
and a change of thinking in the predominant cultural
spaces, places and industries. Yet when difference is
given a place in the mainstream – audiences are
responsive and positive feedback very forthcoming.
Art is often said to be transformative and has the capacity
to affect our critical thinking. Art is at its best when it
reveals our world to us in ways of which we may not have
been aware. And where all people, no matter what stripe,
who wish to create art, can do so with potentially a
meaningful career of cultural contribution.
My thanks to Arts Access Victoria and Melbourne
University for taking the initiative to explore and expand
understanding of the cultural value of artists with disability.
Jane Trengove, Melbourne-based visual artist, was the subject of one of
the video case studies in the Beyond Access research project. She also
served on the steering group for the project. You can view am edited
version of Jane’s video interview here.