On 14th and 15th October 2020 EASPD successfully held its Autumn conference 'The Art of Inclusion: Disability and Diversity in Arts and Culture' in cooperation with Cope Foundation (Ireland) and the European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC). The event saw the engagement of keynote speakers from all over the world and the European Union institutions to discuss not only the policy framework around arts and culture, but also how they can have positive effects on the lives of persons with disabilities as therapy and work activities.
The key messages that emerged from the plenaries were:
- The art created by persons with disabilities does not have to be seen as 'niche', but should be exhibited in mainstream museums and recognised as professional work.
- Art is not only a therapeutic activity for persons with disabilities, it can be their actual career.
- Funds represent an issue: service providers are underfunded when it comes to promoting art and culture for persons with disabilities.
- Art schools are also underfunded, which leads to them being unable to let students with disabilities attend their classes (due to lack of staff training, inaccessible venues, inadequate equipment).
The speakers representing the European Commission (Barbara Gessler, Marta Gutierrez-Benet, Pedro Velazquez) expressed the will of the EU to invest more in the arts and culture sector once the 2021-2027 strategy is implemented.