Intergenerational Connection Through Culture
By Sid Tagg Foster, 26th October 2022
Intergenerational connection through culture is proving to be a key element of our work on the project. This blogpost was written by 16 year old Sid Tagg Foster) who attended both events alongside some of our team and co-researchers.
A few weeks ago, I attended two events targeted at creating an inclusive space for disabled people to connect with and experience the arts in a more intimate and satisfying way.
The first, a dance in the Bristol Beacon called ‘Prehension Blooms’, was prefaced with a ‘touch tour’; an introduction to the performance in the form of allowing the audience to handle the costumes, the set and even the dancers to accommodate those with visual impairments. This was a really enlightening experience for me in multiple ways; at first, I thought about how difficult it must be for the visually impaired to navigate daily life, but then I considered the simplicity of the adjustments made to the performance to enrich the experience for them and it made me realise how simple so many improvements to our society could be while enhancing the lives of the visually impaired to such a high degree. I felt confused at why I hadn’t seen more events like this advertised or attended them myself as, to me, it is so important for everyone in society to be able to have such enriching cultural experiences. I felt that I really gained something from this type of introduction as well, especially to the dancer’s costumes, and it added so much depth being able to imagine the textural sensations which the dancers themselves were experiencing. This introduction also allowed me to glean much more meaning from the dance as well and get a much better understanding of the artistic technique and dynamic nature of the stage, props and dancers all collaborating.
The second was a ‘lie in’ at the Bristol Arnolfini in an exhibition exploring human’s relationship with the natural world and the false dichotomy of the urban and natural . I really enjoyed this event, and I thought it was an interesting and unique way of experiencing a gallery show: something usually so rigid and formalised. There was something mollifying about the freedom to lie down and relax in a place which, to me, should always be so tranquil but is made overwhelming by the rigidity and pressure of rules and social expectation. With this exhibition the experience was particularly effective as much of the art was on the gallery floor, encouraging, in this context, a much closer examination and analysis of the artworks. I especially enjoyed the clay figures and me and my sister spotting our favourites; something I never would’ve experienced without this opportunity. The event made me think about how lucky I am to be the kind of able-bodied person whom society caters for and the ease with which I can experience art and culture and how fortunate I am for that.
Additionally, though, these experiences emphasised to me the falsehood of so much regressive argument against progress today and throughout history: if something benefits one group in society, it benefits us all. These experiences welcomed those who would’ve otherwise had difficulty and allowed the inspiration of these pieces to reach a much wider, more diverse audience, both increasing their cultural impact and improving even my own experience, despite being able-bodied and not visually impaired, and allowing new connections and ways of thinking to form which would have been impossible otherwise. Increasing the accessibility of the arts through multi-sensory experiences creates a welcoming environment and enriches the experience for everyone.