Art (Spaces) Imitates Life?: An Exploration of Arts-Centered Spaces and Their Degree of Accessibility to Immigrant Communities

Afruza Aminul, Texas A

Arts-based spaces facilitate economic and neighborhood development as well as provide a meeting place for individuals that breeds social cohesion and unity. These aspects work together to give a community a sense of identity and belonging. Recognizing the benefits such a space holds, many are concerned with how to make such spaces accessible to all. A common solution proposed, which addresses the barrier of cost, is the elimination of entrance fees. While this practice has shown to be beneficial to a degree, with some museums reporting an increase in visitors and even an increase in the diversity of their visitors, I question whether this practice is enough to make individuals who may be new to the community feel comfortable enough to visit and utilize such space (Grodach 2010; Grodach 2011; Thebaut 2007; Grant 2019; Walters Art Museum 2007). It is with these ideas in mind that I am interested in looking at how comfortable individuals in immigrant communities – either an immigrant themself or direct descendants of immigrants – feel entering publicly accessible art spaces. I am curious to see whether certain art spaces are more amenable for these individuals in comparison to other spaces. Moreover, I want to consider what art spaces can do to address inaccessibility for these individuals. I aim to answer these questions by conducting a comparative field observation study of art spaces based in Houston, Texas, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, The Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, Artspace at Untitled, and Project Row Houses. I plan to supplement my observations with content analysis of materials available at the physical location and their websites.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 10. Constructing and Obstructing Community