Active Voices


The Active Voices group (Madeleine Conn, Cultural Coordinator, Argyll and Bute Council; Jack Shoulder, Learning Manager, English Heritage; Hannah Gaunt, Learning and Engagement Manager, The Turnpike; Darshana Vora, Gallery Administrator, Archivist & Lead in Community Education and Schools Outreach, The Bhavan) investigated how learning colleagues can lead the cultural sector by developing inclusive practice models which embed the ‘active voice’ of the marginalised communities they serve.

The group sought to understand current approaches, whilst also looking for outstanding examples of ‘best and next’ practice. They uncovered inclusive practice principles and created a reflective tool to encourage colleagues to develop their own practice in relation to these.

It is vital that the cultural sector seeks excellence in our inclusive practices by ensuring that marginalised communities have an active voice within our organisations and programmes.

Active Voices

These outcomes will be of interest to professionals in learning, education and community engagement roles especially those seeking to embed inclusive practice across their organisations.

The key learning from the Active Voices Group Enquiry has been that a flexible approach is needed for inclusive work to have value. Context is important, the starting point should always be an understanding of who the community is. Mainstreaming inclusive practice can’t be meaningfully achieved through a continued reliance on tokenistic activity. The best practice examples they found were:

  • Empowering marginalised groups/individuals to take a seat at the table and represent their own issues/stories
  • Relationally building mutual and trusted relationships with groups in which they support each other throughout a variety and projects and programmes
  • Transparent in their processes and open to criticism
  • Collaborative, co-designing and planning activities from beginning to end

These principles were embedded into the research outcomes:

  • 4 double-sided ‘provocations’ — A6 cards and A4 guidelines
  • Presentation at Engage residential
  • A report documenting the desk research that informed the cards, including interviews, case studies and links to articles, presentations and talks


Contributor(s): Madeleine Conn, Jack Shoulder, Hannah Gaunt, Darshana Vora
Publication date: April 2020
Cost: Free download
Language: English
Details: PDF download, PowerPoint
Project: Extend Leadership Programme