Disability and Human Rights
Unlimited access to art and authorship
“ It's not only about making spaces accessible – something absolutely essential – but to enable people with disabilities to be the leading role of the spectacles. ” – Juliano Azevedo, SESC – SP
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And also that everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community and to enjoy the arts. In order to increase access to culture and to encourage artists with disabilities to produce work, the British Council, in partnership with institutions both in the public and private sector, brought to Brazil the Unlimited Art Festival, Forum and Shape Arts Training. This extensive accessibility project is part of Transform programme and started in London 2012 as a Cultural Olympiad project, with annual editions in Brazil from 2013 to 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador and Goiânia.
Since 2012, Brazil and the United Kingdom have been connected by the arts through festivals, performances, workshops, training and consulting focused on inclusion, in its many ways, working not only on supporting showcases but also on strengthening public and institutional policies on accessibility.
Arts Manager for Drama and Dance
people attended the first edition of Unlimited Festival in Rio in 2013
organisations joined the Unlimited network since its inception
major citiies involved with Unlimited initiatives: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro e Recife
Director of Arts, Brazil
Breaking social barriers
The huge success of Unlimited in London was an inspiration to reproduce it in Brazil. “What I take with me is this personal engagement to make collaborations happen in Brazil”, stated Liliane Rebelo, British Council Arts Manager, during the Paralympic games in 2012. The first Brazilian edition took place in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 and offered concerts, performances in dance, drama, visual arts and film screenings. The audience could watch professional dancers in wheelchairs, visually impaired artists and art professionals with other kind of disabilities creating and producing top quality work with impeccable technique, showing that talent and creativity have no limits – even facing a presumed limitation determined much more by social stigma than by the physical condition itself.
Deputy Director of Arts, Brazil
VIDEO: Unlimited Brasil - Mostra Mais Sentidos 2014
Check out more Transform videos [+]
“When I experience barriers, that’s disability. When I experience discrimination, that’s disability. So there is a distinction with the social model of disability between the impairment, which is a condition you have, and disability, which is a social construct”, states Barbara Lisicki, from Shape Arts. This British organisation was responsible for the Unlimited Festival in London where all the consultants are professional artists with disabilities. The trainings and workshops along the events resulted in the digital publication of Guide of Accessibility in Culture – Equal rights for people with disability with Portuguese editions in 2014 and 2015. All the events offered simultaneous translation both in Portuguese and English, Brazilian Sign Language (Libras) and audio description devices for blind attendees. “Unlimited allows the recognition and visibility to these artists, not by the disability, but by their high quality standard artwork”, states Luiz Coradazzi, British Council Arts Director, Brazil.
The practice of 'non-distinction’
Another important audience to be considered for expanding and encouraging arts access and production are homeless people. All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights but not all of them can appreciate it. In order to give this population recognition and visibility, the With One Voice project brought 300 homeless artists to perform at the Royal Opera House. For the first time in history, homeless people were given an official platform during the celebrations of the Olympic and Paralympic games – and they received a standing ovation. Lead by the British NGO Streetwise Opera, the event will have its Brazilian version in 2016 after a delegation of Brazilian artists and homeless movement leaders (Movimento dos Sem Teto – MST) following a trip to London and Manchester to visit other homeless population artworks.
“When I experience barriers, that’s disability. When I experience discrimination, that’s disability. So there is a distinction with the social model of disability between the impairment, which is a condition you have, and disability, which is a social construct.”
Barbara Lisicki, Shape Arts
“Art brings equality".
Marc Brew, Glasgow-based dancer, choreographer and Artistic Director at Marc Brew Company tells us about his experience working with the Unlimited project.