Accessibility & Participation in Community Arts: Are community theatre groups in West Lothian accessible, and what benefits do they offer to their participants?
This study discusses the accessibility and benefits of participating in community theatre activity in West Lothian. Community theatre aims to engage a wide range of participants in community-based activity. Participation in community theatre is subject to whether or not the participant can get access through cultural, economic, geographical or social circumstances. Further to this, participants can benefit from the development of communication, social and general life skills to help with everyday life. The dissertation focuses on community theatre groups in West Lothian and their participants. West Lothian is the geographical focus of the study because of the interest in its location between Edinburgh and Glasgow and the diversity of its inhabitants. Alongside the interest in West Lothian, the study uses previous literature and research to engage with the topic. “Community Performance: An Introduction” by Petra Kuppers and the research in “Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate about the Benefits of the Arts” are two of the pieces of previous literature referred to throughout the dissertation. The research period used qualitative methods to produce data which the study discusses. Community theatre group leaders were initially interviewed to create an overview of the activity in the area. Questionnaires were circulated to community theatre participants to gather their experiences of activity in the area. These research methods provided qualitative data which was interpreted upon using the theoretical framework set up in the literature review. The outcomes of this study include a summary of community theatre activity in West Lothian. The dissertation highlights moments when community theatre is accessible and inaccessible alongside exploring the benefits it delivers. The study concludes that setting up a directory and network would help increase the accessibility of community theatre and as such open up opportunities for more people to receive benefits from participation.