Innovative Programming and Social Engagement in Art Institutions: An Australian Case Study

By Tania Leimbach.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Many art institutions are becoming more audience-centric. The remote scholarship of the traditional curator may not be conducive to engaging diverse audiences in the 21st century. By challenging the conventions of the curatorial model and providing different professional roles for staff in art institutions, there is an opportunity to ensure greater community relevance. As the trend toward more socially engaged art practices continues to develop, an artist, art institution, and the community can become involved in the co-creation of new content. This paper reflects on case study research conducted in an art institution located in an ethnically diverse community in Sydney, Australia. The empirical work that underpins the study includes audience observation, analysis of interpretive exhibition materials and semi-structured interviews. The research reveals an instance where an innovative organisational model combined with the community-focused practice of an artist, elicited engagements with narratives of environmental sustainability. The paper argues that innovative programming models are important in providing long-term and successful engagement with diverse communities. Such opportunities provide the platform for artists to legitimate provocative and unconventional ideas through sophisticated community dialogue and engagement.

Keywords: Socially Engaged Art, Creative Producer, Sustainability, Community, Cultural Diversity

The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.171-184. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 643.799KB).

Tania Leimbach

PhD Student, Institute of Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Tania Leimbach’s research interests include museum studies, contemporary art and design, food cultures and sustainability. She has a background as an artist, design educator and writer. Recent creative collaborations include a public art project with architects ‘UrbanAid’ to provoke interest in small-scale local agriculture and urban biodiversity in Sydney. Tania’s doctoral research is focused on Australian museums and galleries. It looks into responsive and inclusive exhibition and programming strategies. The thesis contributes to learning frameworks for sustainability in diverse educational settings, based on an understanding of sustainability as a critical and creative learning process.


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