Inclusive Curating in Contemporary Art: A Practical Guide by Jade French

Book release – Inclusive Curating in Contemporary Art: A Practical Guide by Jade French.

ICOM UK spoke to Jade French to find out more about the book and how she came to write it.

“My journey to writing this book did not begin in a museum, gallery, or artist studio, but in a self-advocacy organisation supporting learning disabled people. Before I began my career in museums, twelve years ago I worked in disability support not long after the UK’s 2001 personalisation agenda had been introduced. A key component of this highly influential policy, which revolutionised many aspects of care, was ‘person-centred planning’. Crucially, this advocated that people’s care should no longer be decided on solely by professionals, but instead, determined by the individuals themselves who should be empowered to assess their own needs and shape their own support.

Nearly two decades later, this remains a powerful message. While at the time my interests in art and support work seemed worlds apart, as my new book demonstrates, the practice of person-centred planning can prove incredibly useful beyond the field of social care and can be applied to other sectors like museums. Like social care, the museum world has also experienced concerns over inclusion, representation and power move from the margins to the centre. As a result, a growing number of museums have sought to widen participation with curating with people conceptualised as communities, visitors or audiences, but often to varying degrees of quality and success.

Based on person-centred planning approaches, this book presents “inclusive curating,” a facilitated five-step process enabling a wide demographic of people to become curators. Grounded in a case study which details an exhibition developed by learning disabled curators, this book offers guidance in putting inclusive curating into action alongside a range of practical resources and key debates. Curating is often considered an exclusive job for a privileged few. But, by breaking it down using as demonstrated throughout this book, not only does curating become more usable for more people, it also contributes to understanding the ways in which our cultural spaces can become democratized.

This book will be of interest to museum professionals, museology academics and students, artists and community organisers interested in ways to curate exhibitions in inclusive and accessible ways. I hope this book presents not only a practical curatorial process but contributes to broadening the ways in which curating – and crucially the curator – is defined.”

Release date 31st July 2020

Available for pre-order with:

50% Discount code: ARCFRENCH50, valid until the end of December 2020

Image caption: Curators of Auto Agents exploring Niamh O’Malley’s Glasshouse exhibition at Bluecoat