A new €4 million fund led by the British Council will help disabled theatre and dance artists advance their careers internationally.
The professional development initiative, called Europe Beyond Access, has been granted €2 million from the Creative Europe programme of the European Commission, with a further €2 million committed by other project partners.
Europe Beyond Access aims to help disabled artists “break through the glass ceiling” and enter the mainstream European cultural scene.
The programme’s seven European partners include Germany’s largest independent production venue Kampnagel, and more than 900 artists, many of whom are from the UK, are directly involved.
Other partners include Onassis Cultural Centre in Greece, Per Art in Serbia, Skanes Dansteater in Sweden and Holland Dance Festival.
The project will support the development of work by disabled artists and work towards establishing a network committed to commissioning and promoting disabled artists.
It will include new commissions, transnational residencies and collaborations between disabled and non-disabled artists and organisations, as well as 21 festivals of work from across Europe.
British disabled artists will lead four out of five ‘artistic laboratories’ – workshops in partner countries that address specific challenges, from the representation of disability through dance and movement to partnering artists with different body types.
As part of the project, digital toolkits sharing best practice will be distributed in seven languages to 5,600 artists and cultural professionals across Europe. An online database of disabled artists with self-managed online profiles will also be developed.
Ben Evans, the British Council’s head of arts and 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.” All partners will take part in a final conference in Brussels in June 2022, where outcomes of the project will be presented.