Unlimited Access Evaluation Report
Unlimited Access brought together a range of disabled artists, producers and venue managers and has seen the beginnings of extended engagement across the EU for a part of the cultural sector that has for too long been ignored."
Steve Mannix, External Evaluator
Unlimited Access has aimed to increase and improve the transnational mobility of Deaf and disabled artists in Europe, enhance audience engagement and appreciation of disability arts and challenge the ways Deaf and disabled artists are viewed within wider European arts sectors. The project has been delivered by four partners: the British Council (UK), the Onassis Cultural Centre (Greece), Associação Vo'Arte (Portugal) and the Croatian Institute for Movement and Dance (Croatia).
- enable a deeper understanding of the aesthetic of dance created by disabled artists amongst their peers and its influence on the mainstream
- increase awareness of the needs of disabled artists and audiences to access mainstream provision in venues, festivals and events across each participating member state and in the EU as a whole.
The first year of activities focused on creating opportunities to learn about different inclusive approaches and to exchange learning and build creative skills. Each partner delivered activity in their country - a Study Visit in Glasgow (UK) for partners and EU arts professionals, and in Portugal, Croatia and Greece, a series of 'Creative Encounters - dance workshops, talks and presentations of work designed to encourage disabled artists and audiences into cultural spaces.
The second and final year focused on showcasing work by disabled artists, with each partner taking responsibility for presenting work on a 'mainstream' stage.
- British Council Showcase at the Edinburgh Fringe - 23 companies representing the best of young British talent in theatre and dance, including Claire Cunninghamand Gail Sneddon's Ménage à Trois
- Zagreb Dance Week Festival presenting 43 dance and dance theatre performances across 4 venues including Candoco Dance Company at the National Youth Theatre and IMRC at the Zagreb Dance Centre
- Vo'Arte's InShadow Festival featuring 7 performances, 7 installations and 3 exhibitions, including Chisato Minamimura's Ring the Changes+ , Sue Austin's Finding Freedom and Rins a piece choreographed by Mickaella Dantas, a dancer with CiM company
- International Dance Festival "Unlimited Access" curated and presented at the Onassis Cultural Centre, featuring 8 performances by disabled artists and disabled-led companies from 5 countries, including Claire Cunningham, Candoco Dance Company, CiM, IMRC, Ver Te Dance, and three integrated groups of disabled and non-disabled performers presenting work developed during the Greece Creative Encounters
- staff training in access issues and commissioning of access audits for the first time
- new partnerships with disabled artists with a view to long term further collaboration
- increased awareness amongst mainstream dance and cultural communities of the work of disabled artists
- high demand from disabled artists to continue workshops and programming opportunities
- increased audiences of disabled people
Impact on the sector
Throughout Unlimited Access, representatives from a range of mainstream arts bodies, established disability arts organisations and funding organisations were able to engage with the project. At two key moments in particular - the Study Visit in Glasgow, and the International Dance Festival in Athens - Unlimited Access welcomed artists and arts professionals from other EU countries and engaged them in debate and reflection about the aims of the project, the potential impact on their own organisation, their country and the sector as a whole.
"Meeting all of you in Athens has given us important food for thought. Within the Holland Dance organisation we are at a point where we are gathering as much information as we can in order to sharpen our vision and get a clearer view on what our role can be to put the subject of dance and disability on the radar in the Netherlands."
Dance Festival Director, Holland
"I came home realising what a void there is in major international training institutions to support deaf and disabled artists and integrated practice. I gained a deeper contemplation for the complexity of the term 'disability' and confirmation as to how diversity enriches artistic practice."
Dance Professional, Sweden
"We exist to make work that is relevant to the public, to the city we're in and beyond. Our role in society as a contemporary arts centre is to help build a balanced society, create innovative forms of thinking and working. Unlimited Access fits with this."
Venue Manager, Greece
Impact on the Project Partners
Within the partner organisations, longer-term learning and transformation has already occurred, with results including
For further details about the project activities, the achievements of Unlimited Access and some of the challenges, take a look at the full External Evaluation Report,available to download as a PDF file. The Report also includes recommendations and provocations for future work in Europe and beyond to build on achieving equality for disabled artists and audiences, and a greater understanding, appreciation and circulation of their work.
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