Reaching the hard to reach

Arts Professional: Essential Audiences 16 July 2007

Reaching the unreachable
Engaging with hard-to-reach groups is, after all, what tackling social exclusion is all about. But how do you reach the unreachable? Heather Maitland makes some suggestions.
Some arts organisations exist to reach people no-one else engages with. Engaging with hard-to-reach groups is, after all, what tackling social exclusion is all about. But how do you reach the unreachable?
The government has set its agencies working with young people the target of reducing the proportion of 16 to 18 year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) by two percentage points by 2010. NEET young people are by definition hard to reach as they are not engaged with any part of the formal infrastructure. It reports that “the reductions [to date] in the proportion of NEET young people are the result of a wide range of organisations working effectively together to target the issue.” This multi-agency approach is adopted by most arts organisations who form partnerships with groups already in contact with NEET young people. But this means that arts organisations only work with young people already engaged in some way with the support system. Should they be targeting the genuinely unreachable instead of focusing on partnerships?
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