Culture is a tool for integration and inclusiveness for people who have special needs; ensuring and encouraging access to the arts for them is beneficial to our societies as this allows us to tap into the creativity of all people. And arts & culture are also a very powerful tool to raise awareness about the need of a truly inclusive society.
But we service providers cannot work in an isolated way! We need to reach out all relevant actors and break the silos that prevent a fruitful and sustainable cooperation between the cultural sector and disability support services. This was the purpose behind the series of events that took place in Brussels on the 3rd and 4th October, where EASPD joined forces with organisations from many different European countries.
The ISA project: the power of arts
The ISA project (Inclusion in society by the arts– Field Aperture) aims at promoting non-discrimination and inclusion of persons with disabilities by developing innovative initiatives through arts and culture (theatre, cinema, advertising...)
The project, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme - wishes to change the perception and vision of disability in society, by raising- awareness of the general public, particularly in educational and training institutions. How? By valuing arts as lever for social inclusion and by integrating new teaching approaches into the curriculum of primary, secondary and higher education. The project targets future professionals in the cultural and media fields.
One the first project outputs, the European guide including promising practices on raising public awareness of disability through the prism of cultural and artistic actions, was presented in a Practitioners Round Table – organised by EASPD on October the 3rd -. This guide identifies organisations and examples that showcase excellence in making the art & culture world more accessible for persons with disabilities but also in using the arts as vehicle for changing mindsets – so persons with disabilities can enjoy equal opportunities as anyone else. The event was an excellent opportunity to talk about the current challenges on inclusion in society by the arts but also to have very practical exchanges on how to move forward to produce empowering artistic and cultural activities. Many different ideas were discussed so make sure you follow the developments of the ISA project as partners will work in new project ideas!
For more information, click here
The ABBA project: a unique way of blending audiences
ABBA (Audience Blending by Arts) is a Creative Europe co-funded project which aims to explore new ways of developing audiences through the creation of Sign and Sound Theatre, where the project partners worked on bringing the deaf and hearing community together through inclusive bilingual theatre. On October 4th, the final conference was held at the European Economic Social Commitee (EESC) and it was the opportunity to learn about the results of the project and discuss with all participants how this bilingual theatre method can be further developed and spread throughout Europe. Cooperation was mentioned as a key issue, as illustrated by the new ABBA promotional video that was also launched during the event.
The political debate held in the morning session between representatives of the EU institutions, disability service providers and artists, made clear that new Creative Europe Programme and the next European Disability Strategy need to work in synergy in order to meet the challenges in arts and culture for persons with special needs, under the framework of the article 30 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
The cultural sector needs to be properly supported in order to develop its potential to empowering persons with special needs. And here the cooperation with disability support services is crucial. In this sense, the new European Accessibility Act is full of potential for making arts & culture more inclusive and accessible for all persons with disabilities.
In the afternoon, examples of good practices and cooperation showed how culture is a factor contributing to emancipation and diversity and enriching it is to work with people from all backgrounds. European funded projects are indeed a great tool as they allow not only for financial support but also for the time and the framework to build relationships, understand more about each other, progress and learn and navigate new ways through the creative and artistic collaborations.