Un-Label - New Grounds of inclusive performing arts is an EU-Creative Europe co-funded project with partners from Germany, England, Greece and Turkey, which explores inclusive practice with an interdisciplinary outlook. Project lead, Lisette Reuter introduces their new publication entitled ‘Innovation Diversity – New Approaches of Cultural Encounter in Europe’ which is now available as a free resource.

Innovation Diversity – New Approaches of Cultural Encounter in Europe is available in different formats here.

Innovation Diversity Dancando com Diferenca image

Choreography: Desafinado (2011). Choreographer Paulo Riberio. Photograph: Julio Silva Castro

Un-Label is a cooperative project between Sommertheater Pusteblume e.V. (Germany), SMouTh (Greece) SKYGD (Turkey), Candoco Dance Company (UK) and TH Köln (Germany). It has set itself the task of highlighting the multifaceted potential of emerging professional performers with and without disabilities from all over Europe by bringing together different abilities and various cultural influences.

As an interdisciplinary and inclusive project, Un-Label was formed to encourage an open collective of artists from dance, theatre, music, acrobatics and poetry, with an emphasis on diversity and not on disability. It is the first project of this kind at a European level.

Innovation Diversity – New Approaches of Cultural Encounter in Europe combines scientific, political as well as practical aspects, which illuminate cultural participation in a variety of ways. It provides stakeholders a valuable toolset for inclusion and participation of disabled people in art and culture.

The manual was compiled as part of Un-label with the aim of promoting exchange, enabling further growth in the international network of inclusive cultural professionals, and to encourage the creation of more cultural projects using inclusive principles. We believe the development of art through inclusion makes an important contribution to innovative change in our societies. It is enriching us all and adding to the diversity of our cultural landscapes.

The first chapter presents a comprehensive view of the two-and-half-year Un-Label project. Organizers, artists and contributors describe the way they have experienced the project and how Un-label has impacted them in the process. From the description of the artistic methods and strategies, to the political dimension of the project, to insights from scientific assessments carried out.

In the second chapter, ten profiles of best practice for inclusive performing arts from across Europe are presented. This includes Candoco Dance Company from the UK, Moomsteatern and ShareMusic & Performing Arts from Sweden, IntegrART and Freie Republik HORA from Switzerland, Royal Conservatoire Antwerp from Belgium, Dançando com a Diferença and Vo’Arte from Portugal, Fuori Contesto from Italy and DIN A 13 tanzcompany from Germany. The portraits give valuable insights into the varied work of European cultural professionals. They all offer suggestions to sharpen the awareness of diversity in our society, to understand differences as the norm and to value them as a source of creativity.

Individual essays written by Ben Evans from the British Council and Joop Oonk & Mutsumi Karasaki of Misiconi Dance Company (Netherlands) discuss the professional artistic work of disabled people, and reflect on the challenges inherent in their participation.

A good deal of information is given in the last chapter on current criteria for reducing barriers in the cultural sector in Europe. A glance at Switzerland presents five fields of action for classifying cultural participation. Checklists offer help for practical planning and implementation of future projects and it provides a compilation of more than 100 European organisations and stakeholders who have made a name for themselves as experts in the inclusive professional performing arts scene.

It is our fervent hope that this collection will grow, and that further culture-makers will discover inclusive work for themselves. Cooperation and mutual enrichment of experience are an important factor in strengthening the inclusive performance scene across Europe. 

People with special physical, psychological or mental challenges are shaping cultural projects and enriching them by exploiting unconventional means of artistic expression. In a unique way, with its contributions from various European countries this manual displays the spectrum of different social attitudes and institutions, but also voices the shared desire for an inclusive, diverse society.

The manual is available to download as a pdf in both English and German. A print edition can be purchased for 8 EUR (plus postage) by emailing info@un-label.eu