Making and gifting belonging: creative arts and people with learning disabilities

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    59 Citations (Scopus)


    Creative arts are understood to be a mediator between positions of social exclusion and inclusion for marginalised people and places, building self-confidence and strengthening social networks. Whilst there are undoubted benefits from involvement in creative arts, the paper critiques the assumed shift from excluded to included positions. Instead, the paper adopts the nuanced notion of ‘belonging’ to reflect the desires and experiences of one marginal group, people with learning disabilities. Drawing on case-studies of two creative arts organisations in Edinburgh, Scotland, the paper argues: first, the making of arts objects and performances provides opportunities for embodied and emotional expression; second, the act of ‘gifting’ objects and performances to people in wider society transmits emotions and creativity into non-disabled spaces with possible outcomes of connection and recognition; third, the intimate communities and safe spaces where creative art is made provide bases for ventures into public spaces for gifting, and the generation of senses of belonging. The paper concludes hopefully, arguing that through the doing of creative arts people with learning disabilities can transcend the exclusionary landscape (albeit temporarily) and begin to reimagine and transform understandings of learning disability and difference in society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)244-262
    Number of pages19
    JournalEnvironment and Planning A
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


    • Creative arts
    • Social inclusion
    • Belonging
    • Learning disability


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