Symposium: Disability and Transforming the Cultural Ecosystem

Date: May 26, 2023 - May 26, 2023

A white male performer with one arm shorter than the other looks directly into the camera

Livestreamed from Brussels, Europe’s largest arts and disability programme Europe Beyond Access presents its final symposium on 26 May 2023, 10:00-13:00 CEST (Brussels/Berlin).

  • What is the current cultural landscape for European artists, arts professionals and audiences with disabilities in 2023?
  • What recent advances have been made on a national and European basis?
  • How can all cultural professionals, arts organisations, national institutions, and cultural policymakers play a part in transforming the cultural ecosystem in the years to come?

These questions and more to be answered through contributions from European cultural networks, national Arts Councils & Ministries of Culture, and from leading disabled artists including Demy Papathanasiou (GR) and Aristide Rontini (IT)


“How Policymakers in Europe can lead the way in Cultural Accessibility”

Now available to watch on YouTube

In the 5 years of the Europe Beyond Access project we have seen many positive changes at regional, national and transnational levels. But not all change has been positive, and the journey towards cultural equity is desperately slow. These questions and more will be discussed:

  • “What commitment to disability equity lies in the power of cultural policymakers?”
  • “When should policymakers follow the lead of the cultural sector, and when should they take the initiative?”
  • “How can accessible culture be prioritised at a time of financial precarity and political uncertainty?”

“Transforming the Cultural Ecosystem. Case Study: Italy”

Now available to watch on YouTube

This panel will explore how significant changes in opportunities for disabled dance artists in Italy have taken place in the last 5 years. Disabled artists, mainstream cultural institutions, Italian national networks, and national policymakers and funders have all contributed to this transformation.

Panellists will include Donatella Ferrante (former executive manager for the Italian General Directorate for Live Performing Arts), dance artist and co-founder of Al.Di.Qua. artists’ Association, Aristide Rontini, and representatives of both Oriente Occidente Dance Festival and Aterballeto – the only National Choreographic Centre in Italy.

The event will also feature a number of short films, focusing on improving allyship with disabled artists and audiences, introducing Italian artist-activist collective Al.Di.Qua, and exploring how policymakers can support the human rights of disabled artists.

The symposium takes place as part of Kunstenfestivaldesarts, an international performing arts festival across Brussels.


Maria Vlachou – Director, Acesso Cultura (PT) (Moderator)

Demy Papathanasiou – Choreographer, Dancemaker, Advocate (GR) (Moderator)

Kim Simpson – Head of Equalities, Diversity & Inclusion, Creative Scotland (UK)

Georg Häusler: Director Culture, Creativity And Sport, European Commission

Donatella Ferrante – Performing arts expert and former executive manager for the Italian General Directorate for Live Performing Arts (IT)

Aristide Rontini – Choreographer, Dancemaker, co-founder of Al.Di.Qua Association (IT)

Anna Consolati – General Manager, Oriente Occidente Dance Festival (IT)

Nadja Dias – Independent Producer, including for Claire Cunningham (DE)

Ben Evans (Project Director, Europe Beyond Access / Head of Arts & Disability EU Region, British Council) (UK)

Marie Le Sourd (Secretary General, On The Move) (FR)

About Europe Beyond Access

Europe Beyond Access is a collaboration between 7 leading arts organisations from across Europe: British Council (UK), Onassis Cultural Centre (Greece), Holland Dance Festival (The Netherlands), Kampnagel (Germany); Per.Art (Serbia), Skånes Dansteater (Sweden), Oriente Occidente (Italy) and co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. It aims to support disabled artists to break through the glass ceilings of the contemporary theatre and dance sectors.

Europe Beyond Access’ Dissemination Affiliates are: Acesso Cultura, EUCREA, IETM, ISPA, ONDA, Theatre Institute (Warsaw), and Un-Label.


International Sign interpretation and live captioning will be provided. Captions will be available in Italian, Spanish, Polish, French, German, and Serbian. To access these captions, you must attend the event in Zoom.