Intersocial – Introduction

By Damien McGlynn, Communications & Partnerships Director, Voluntary Arts, Great-Brittain

Inter-social bridging, as presented here, concerns the building of trust and bonds across different socio-economic demographics. Following the State of the Arts survey report, we present a six case studies examining ways in which co-creative activities can encourage inter-social bridging. Case studies come from the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark and demonstrate a diverse range of approaches. Each offers us a unique perspective on addressing the divides which can easily grow between groups of different socio-economic backgrounds, particularly in countries with growing income inequality. A recent OECD report states:

“First, the higher the level of economic inequality, the higher will be the “social barriers” between groups and the less individuals will feel familiar with and connect to other people. Second, inequality may generate a perception of injustice: it is difficult to develop trust in others if they are seen as having unfair advantages. Finally, unequal communities may disagree over how to share (and finance) public goods, and those disagreements can in turn break social ties and lessen social cohesion. Broken trust can lead to intolerance and discrimination and there is growing concern across European countries and more globally over the association with political instability”[1]

This publication seeks to demonstrate the ways that co-creative activities can and do facilitate this improved inter-social bridging but, in addition, to look at the characteristics of those projects that evidence greater success in this area and highlight what we can learn from these and what can be taken, adapted and used as models for the future and for other locations and countries.

The issues of inequality and social barriers resulting from economic divides are familiar to many countries. In the UK, the recent Panic! report[2] outlined the long-standing class divide between the cultural and creative industries and the general population. The authors make an interesting point that the analysis “shows the taste patterns of cultural workers are substantially different from those of the rest of the population”. In many ways, community-driven co-creative activities are already a step ahead of the professional-led sector in this respect. The activities that are instigated and supported by people outside of the traditional, funded cultural sector are the kinds of things they themselves want to be involved in, as opposed to something being prescribed for them from above.

[1] ‘Understanding The Socio-Economic Divide in Europe’, OECD (2017): https://www.oecd.org/els/soc/cope-divide-europe-2017-background-report.pdf

[2] ‘Panic! Social Class, Taste and Inequalities in the Creative Industries’, Brook, O’Brien, Taylor (2018): https://www.barbican.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/2018-04/Panic-Paper-2018-FINAL-18.4.18.pdf