Disabled artists will ‘break through the glass ceiling’ with €4m international project
Europe Beyond Access selected for co-funding by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union
- Over 900 artists involved directly in the project – among them many from the UK
- Audiences of over 70,000 will be exposed to innovative work by disabled artists
- Thousands more to benefit from festivals, showcases and online platforms designed to promote mainstream commissioning and programming of disabled artists
- Almost 7,000 cultural professionals and 330 organisations engaging with high-quality disability-led work
- Capacity Building and professional development to accompany artistic experimentation and trans-national cooperation.
- Long-term impact to transform national policies and the European cultural sector to remove discrimination towards disabled artists and audiences
- €2m funding approved from the Creative Europe programme of the European Commission, matching the €2m committed by the project partners.
A four-year programme to bring disabled performing artists into the mainstream of the European cultural scene was granted funding today, in the form of a partnership between seven major European theatre and dance organisations.
The core partners of the project are British Council (UK), Onassis Cultural Centre (Greece); Holland Dance Festival (The Netherlands), Kampnagel (Germany); Per.Art (Serbia), Skånes Dansteater (Sweden), Oriente Occidente (Italy).
Europe Beyond Access will support disabled artists to break the glass ceilings of the contemporary theatre & dance sectors: to internationalise their artistic innovations and their careers; to develop a network of leading mainstream organisations with a commitment to present and commission at the highest level; to build European audiences interested in high-quality innovative work by Europe’s disabled artists; and to develop tools and understanding in the wider performing arts market.
Europe Beyond Access will work directly with some of the most important cultural bodies and government agencies in Europe, while partners will establish a network committed to commissioning and promoting disabled artists.
14 Commissions of high-quality works by disabled artists and disability-led companies will be produced and toured alongside 20 residencies between artists from different countries, and 5 international artistic laboratories. 21 festivals of excellent and innovative work from across Europe will be presented during the project.
Partners will work with local and national performing arts organisations, existing festivals and sector associations to develop capacity building events, and each partner has committed to achieving a 30 per cent increase of its own disabled audience by the end of the project.
An online database of disabled artists with self-managed online profiles will involve an initial group of 40 disabled artists, which will be developed into a resource for the whole European sector.
A training programme for disabled and mainstream audiences will involve over 900 cultural professionals from across Europe, and digital toolkits sharing best practice will be distributed in seven languages to 5,600 artists and cultural professionals across Europe.
Ben Evans, the British Council’s Head of Arts & Disability for the European Union region said:
“We are delighted that the innovation and excellence of Europe’s disabled artists has been recognised by the Creative Europe programme. Europe Beyond Access aims to transform the European arts sector, by proving beyond doubt that disabled artists are making some of the most innovative and excellent work of our age.
For the British Council it is hugely exciting that so many British artists will contribute to the success of this project. The UK has a world-renowned Disability Arts sector, but even the best known of our disabled artists and companies face barriers in developing genuine artistic collaborations overseas. We hope that Europe Beyond Access will transform careers as well as the wider arts sector.”
All partners will take part in a final conference in Brussels in June 2022, where outcomes of the project will be presented.
The project is led by the British Council
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.
Our work in arts creates new relationships between artists, organisations and audiences to develop stronger creative sectors around the world. We help artists to break new ground, support creativity and innovation, increase capacity by building skills to support livelihoods and cultural enterprise, extend safe spaces for creative exchange and contribute to research and policy. Through our extensive and diverse networks in the UK and across the world we create new opportunities and lasting connections.
The British Council has been touring the work of British disabled artists around the world for 30 years, and currently works with disabled artists in 37 countries. Alongside the presentation of high-quality artistic works, the British Council facilitates the training of arts professionals regarding disability arts, and policy-maker discussions and conferences seeking to share knowledge and best practice with regards to increasing access to the arts for disabled people.
Onassis Cultural Centre (Greece)
OCC, one of Greece’s leading cultural institutions, has offered a dance and disability programme since 2012. In 2013 it took part in Unlimited Access, a Creative Europe-supported partnership with British Council and two others. This launched OCC’s participatory programme for disabled aspiring dance artists and inspired them to be the lead partner in an Erasmus+ programme, researching inclusive dance teaching methodologies.
Kampnagel, as one of Europe’s largest production and presentation spaces, has undergone a seven-year journey of examining how collaborations between disabled and non-disabled artists have created some of Europe’s most interesting and challenging work.
Per Art (Serbia)
Per Art has run an “Art and Inclusion“ programme since 1999 – gathering people with Learning Disabilities, artists (theatre, dance and visual arts), special educators, representatives of cultural institutions, architects and students. Per Art has worked with and influenced dozens of national and regional arts organisations to share good practice and to share excellent work by disabled artists, as well as collaborating internationally.
Skånes Dansteater (Sweden)
Skånes Dansteater is Sweden’s largest independent dance institution. It has developed and engaged in deep community projects with long-term commitments, leading to a strong support of aspiring and early-career disabled dance artists. Since 2014 Skånes Dansteater has integrated disabled dancers into its repertory company on a regular basis. The organisation has become a leading voice in arts and disability in Sweden as well as the rest of Scandinavia, and is frequently asked to share their expertise, experience and good practice at conferences and seminars.
Holland Dance Festival (Netherlands)
Holland Dance Festival is a major national organisation with experience of offering local disabled aspiring artists opportunity to work at a professional level for the first time. It has been the national pioneers of artist development, as well as presenting world class work within its mainstream programme. Holland Dance has taken a national role disseminating best practice, in partnership with local arts funders and networks, already hosting 2 major conferences on dance and disability.
Oriente Occidente (Italy)
Oriente Occidente, one of Europe’s leading dance festivals, first programmed disabled artists in their annual international dance festival in 2014. They have subsequently developed a major programme investigating the artistic contribution to dance made by disabled artists. They recently participated in a Creative Europe cooperation project ‘Moving Beyond Inclusion’, with leading companies from Sweden and the UK. Oriente Occidente also host the only Italian web portal focussing on inclusive dance.
The core partners will be supported in the project by a range of affiliated organisations – committed to supporting the project aims and activities, and disseminating its results.
IETM – International Network for contemporary performing arts
ISPA – Global network of more than 500 performing arts leaders
EEPAP – East European Performing Arts Platform
ONDA – the French office for contemporary performing arts circulation
Acesso Cultura – Portugal’s national organisation widening access to culture
Instytut Teatralny – Polish Theatre Institute
IMiT – Polish Institute of Music and Dance
EUCREA – Organisation supporting disabled artists in the German-speaking area.
The project will be supported by an advisory committee of disabled artists from across Europe.