There is no more of an opportune moment to discuss cultural inclusion.
We know that during the pandemic there have been huge movements forward that have enabled meaningful access and inclusion. People who work in this space have continued to problem solve and make adaptations with some profound results. We want to amplify and share these so that they can help and inform other organisations.
We have seen the home becoming a place of access and learning, where families have become significant players within the education dynamic. This shift means that new relationships have been formed and greater impact has been seen. We know that families are central to inclusion and this offers further opportunities that can be built on to promote equality of opportunity for disabled children and young people.
However, there are inequalities within society which have become greater and more entrenched. Cracks have now become chasms. The digital divide is one such illustration of this which has been identified and attempts are being made to meet this need. The access to IT has become a signifier of division in society. Not only access to devices, but also access to wifi which is a reoccurring theme that 9 months into the pandemic has yet to get the strategic attention from government that it so badly needs. The threshold for support means that great swathes of learners are missing out. This connectivity is not only vital to education and culture; it is also the connection to community and support.
We know that, as a result of isolation and lack of connectivity, there is mental health tsunami that will hit post pandemic. In the generations that preceded, who were brutalised by their experiences, we do know that mental health matters. We can support those affected and healing can happen.
It has become more apparent that access to space and resources that allow meaningful engagement to take place in the home has a financial cost. We know that communities need access to shared spaces so that they can continue to have common experience. We need to affirm our commitment to each other and our commitment to culture. Culture engagement, as both producers and consumers, envelopes all of our lives and is a right for all to access.
This conference offers us the opportunity to come together so that we can have the conversations we need to innovate and lead change. For us to gain understanding of inclusion and how to develop and grow it through real, sustainable partnerships.
This conference is a space where we can galvanise a range of people, organisations and institutions with a shared set of values to discuss the issues, have dialogue and make that change. For us to explore this space so that we have greater understanding and to think about how best to proceed. To engage in problem solving, and identify practical solutions, as well as continuing to build an inclusionist network. That is why we have invited those that work and influence in the space to share the issues they have identified, and some of the solutions that have already been used to tackle them, so we can all learn and move forward together.