BALTIC is responding to the increasing inequality of post-pandemic reality and is currently working in partnership with Children North East charity in order to ‘Poverty Proof’ our organisation and strive to create a more inclusive organisation. BALTIC is well positioned to play a critical role in improving access to the arts for those living in poverty and we will be the first visual arts organisation to undertake this process.
The Poverty Proofing intervention involves Children North East working alongside BALTIC to identify barriers to engagement for families suffering the effects of poverty and supporting BALTIC to overcome these barriers. The process aims to ensure that household income does not impact on an individual’s ability to visit our building and participate in our activity.
The Poverty Proofing process is rigorous. It began with staff and trustee attendance at Poverty Awareness Training which supported all to improve their understanding and empathy for families suffering the effects of poverty, and allowed staff to begin to unpick the impact poverty may have on the accessibility of their work within the organisation. Following this was a scoping exercise with staff at BALTIC and CNE delivery team to grasp an understanding of the current work delivered at BALTIC to take through the following consultation phases.
The consultation phases are currently underway; arguably, these phases are the most critical aspects of the process. The main focus is to understand and hear the voices of families who currently access BALTIC, and those from postcode areas with higher levels of poverty that do not currently access our organisation, and then respond to these voices. Elements of this involve data gathering through online questionnaires and one-one discussion with current visitors and non-visitors, who will feedback on their experiences of BALTIC to inform the consultation.
The final stage of Poverty Proofing involves a comprehensive written report with suggested recommendations to roll out. The overall outcome of this collaborative process is to explore what potential structural changes and policies can be implemented to eliminate inequalities and improve accessibility, essential as we move forward with our civic mission.