January 17, 2020
‘ImPArt – Performing Arts redesigned for immediate accessibility‘ is an international project co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, which takes accessibility a step further. The aesthetics of access become a source of inspiration and encourage experimentation. The four project partners from Germany, Armenia, Greece and Italy set out on an expedition from May 2018-October 2020 with international artists, experts and stakeholders with and without disabilities from various backgrounds such as dance, theatre, music, video and poetry. ImPArt aims to make the tremendous artistic potential of truly accessible art at the theoretical and practical level tangible.
Today, accessibility in the arts usually translates as audio description, captioning or sign language interpretation, which are perceived as alien elements outside the stage. The piece of art is objectified while emotional and artistic levels are neglected. Audiences with disabilities are partially deprived of the aesthetic experience and artists do not even get the chance to create accessible works of art. ImPArt aims to find new creative ways to allow everybody to have equal access to an artistic product.
Through workshops, creative residencies, masterclasses, international symposia, international summits and international labs ImPArt researches and experiments with new thoughts and approaches for inclusion in the arts. The result of this journey is three flexible small-scale productions (Re: construction, Gravity (and other attractions) and The Little Prince) which premiered in September 2019 at the Greek National Opera in Athens. They will continue to tour through Germany, Italy and other European countries to showcase the results of the project.
ImPArt aims to:
- Generate sustainable accessible model methodologies in the creative process.
- Raise awareness on accessibility and inclusion within the cultural mainstream.
- Increase the capacity of art organisations, artists and experts to create inclusive work.
- Provide professional training for disabled and non-disabled artists.
- Innovate in audience development to communicate more widely the value and thrill of inclusive work.
- Create a step-change in the number and quality of accessible performances.
- Increase the international talent pool and mobility of disabled artists as well as job opportunities for disabled artists.
- Showcase the best of inclusive practice by placing the work within the cultural mainstream.
- Emphasise distribution methods such as presentations on conferences, symposia and roundtables in order to increase the reach and impact amongst the ever-growing network of presenters, politicians, academics, media and audiences far beyond the project partners’ own national boundaries.
The association Un-Label e.V. has been working for more than 20 years successfully in the field of cultural promotion for artists with and without disabilities in Germany. The inclusive approach is at the core of the organisation’s activities. Founded in 1994, the association supports the creative, artistic and cultural development as well as the communication between people with and without disabilities. This is particularly done by organizing and supporting innovative cultural projects, consulting, realisation of artistic workshops and training courses. Since 2014 the main focus is on the one hand on the creation of international, interdisciplinary projects such as the current European funded projects ImPArt and Creability. On the other hand, on the building of a European network which creates a platform at a high professional level for mixed-abled artists to put new innovative inclusive ways of working to the test and to strengthen Disability Arts. In 2017 the international mixed-abled Un-Label Performing Arts Company was founded which creates mixed-abled performances and new audience development methods for equal participation of people with disabilities in the cultural sector.
NCA.SMALL THEATRE is one of the most innovative theatrical companies in Armenia. Their aim is to experiment with form and content, whilst producing art that is both entertaining and accessible for a wide range of audiences. Since 2006 NCA.SMALL THEATRE has been cooperating with a number of international theatrical companies and institutions to offer joint masterclasses and workshops for local artists and students from various disciplines. In 2014 NCA.SMALL THEATRE established the first inclusive dance company in Armenia. The country has only recently in the year 2018 joined the Creative Europe programme as a partner, which makes this cooperation possible.
Synergy of Music Theatre [SMouTh] was set-up in 2001 by emerging artists in the areas of theatre, music, dance and media. They offer a variety of artistic workshops for both young people and adults, including creative writing, drama, music, dance, aerial dance, and media. SMouTh creates professional and educational performances as well as cultural productions and is actively involved in several European projects and networks. SMouTh has extensive experience in creating international multidisciplinary performances with emerging artists and has a long and successful history of working in the field of artist development.
ORIENTE OCCIDENTE was founded in 1981 and works actively to strengthen the role of contemporary dance in Italy. As one of Europe’s leading dance festivals it hosts artist residencies, seminars, lectures, workshops and exhibitions as well as performances. The programme is of the highest quality to promote development, availability and diversity of dance for audiences and mass media. They have extensive experience of international co-commissioning, co-producing and presentation as well as a large network of partners.
Seven years ago they started the programme DanceAbility with workshops and masterclasses. In 2016 Oriente Occidente took part in its first EU Creative Europe project, Moving Beyond Inclusion, providing training opportunities for disabled artists. Through these activities, a first network between Italian partners that are working in this field have been established. Those practices had a big sustainable impact and amazing feedback and set the solid ground for further actions in the future. The vision from Oriente Occidente was to create a legislative framework, to involve politics and to provide access to training for disabled dancers, a very big chance and a very big change in Italy. They setup a website for dance interaction and inclusion. This website is the first online network of artists, trainers, companies and schools that are working, researching, creating and offering training in the context of inclusion and diversity in Italy.
The core partners are supported in the project by a range of associated organisations committed to supporting the project aims and activities, and disseminating its results.
Digital Studio Talk: Rethinking the stage
The three ImPArt international productions Re:construction, The Little Prince and Gravity (and other attractions) were supposed to premiere in Germany at the Cologne Sommerblut-Festival in May 2020. All three of them are rethinking and reworking accessibility on stage: Unfortunately, all the events had to be canceled due to the current Corona circumstances.
A spontaneous reaction to the recent developments was the production of a digital studio talk that offers deep insights into the specific challenges, artistic possibilities, limitations, and chances of this new approach. Christof Seeger-Zurmühlen, Artistic Director and Dramaturg at Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf and Asphalt Festival, and Lisette Reuter, Un-Label Creative Producer, discussing the process and the results of this innovative research project. During the talk, videos will give insights into the productions as well as the creative process and show statements of the artists involved. It is an online resource for anyone who wants to work more inclusive in the arts.”