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EASPD and the EU address issue of inclusion in arts and culture at the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD

On the 3rd December the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) in cooperation with the European Commission brought together stakeholders from the arts and culture sector to address cultural participation for persons with disabilities and the role played by support services during the annual Conference of States Parties to the CRPD. The event was a first of this kind on this topic and marked the need for support services to better understand and value  the arts as the vanguard of the inclusion agenda.
At the annual Conference of States Parties to the UN CRPD on the 3rd of December, EASPD co-organised an event with the European Commission to address the barriers faced of persons with disabilities in accessing the arts and culture sector and the role played by service providers to secure access to this field.
The panel debate included representatives from service providers, the academic world, artists with disabilities and interdisciplinary, mixed-abled performing arts company as well as from the European Commission, who debated about the tools necessary to unlock access to the sector.
For many persons with disabilities Article 30 of the UN CRPD on Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport is just words on a page; yet participation to cultural life was recognized a human rights matter since 1948 when it was included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
While art in the disability field has often been used purely in relation to recreational or therapeutical services, the educational potential as well as the employment opportunities in the field have been neglected. There continues to be a significant lack of knowledge, awareness, and high level support in disability support service organisations about the importance of creativity, creative development and the provision of enabling opportunities. Co-creation and co-production are approaches that can facilitate mainstreaming of arts and culture. Better funding, addressing support needs of individuals and facilitating legal frameworks can further enable the role played by support services in bridging the arts and culture sector.
Mr Eoin Nash, Manager of Arts and Creative Arts Therapies at Cope Foundation and EASPD Board Member, stressed how “the implementation of Article 30 of the UN CRPD demands attention from support services, cultural institutions and arts organisations. Support services must value and support the arts and this requires awareness raising of Article 30 to develop arts implementation strategies . At the same time, cooperation with gate keepers and curators should ensure disability and diversity representation in decision making and at the level of boards management”.
Mrs Katarina Ivanković-Knežević, Director at DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of  the European Commission stressed how awareness raising is essential to introduce conducive policy frameworks that can promote inclusion. In the past years the development of a European Disability Card already allowed to make disabled persons rights recognised across a number of EU Member States. Along this path, issues related to Article 30 could also be made more visible with clear commitments from the governments. At european level, the future European Disability Strategy to be published in 2021 will play an important role in further raising this topic on the EU agenda.

Concluding, EASPD President Jim Crowe highlighted how since 2014 EASPD works to ensure access to arts and culture is unlocked and promoted and has a dedicated group of experts looking into possibilities for exchange and funding opportunities. It is the ambition of EASPD to bring access to arts and culture forward on its agenda and make them powerful tools for the promotion of inclusion at all levels.

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Note to editors

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 17,000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.

For more information please contact:

Rachel Vaughan
EASPD Operations Manager
+32 2 233  77 20