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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.

 

Liliane Rebelo
Arts Manager for Drama and Dance

1000

people attended the first edition of Unlimited Festival in Rio in 2013

25

organisations joined the Unlimited network since its inception

03

major citiies involved with Unlimited initiatives: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro e Recife

Luiz Coradazzi
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.

Lucimara Letelier
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

Accessibility: an invitation for reflection

The accessibility and inclusion issue is central not only to people with some kind of disability or to the homeless population. There are other kinds of discrimination and exclusion that require urgent transformation, such as the ones concerned to the LGBT population, and turning to art seems like the best way to promote this reflection. In the play The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven, the Scottish transsexual actress, playwright and poet Jo Clifford creates a very human portrait of a transgender Jesus Christ, through a monologue in which the world is shown from a very kind and tolerant perspective. “If you look at the way Jesus behaves in The Gospel, he was always talking to disadvantaged groups, to marginalized groups, to the victims of persecutions, prejudice, and would speak to them in a very accepting way, from one human being to another. I think it’s important to remind people that’s what he was really like, he wasn’t the nasty, prejudiced, judgemental, self- righteous person you might tempt to assume if you watch the behaviour of lots of the fundamentalist so called Christian groups”, Jo states. The play has been performed for the first time in Brazil during the International Theatre Festival of Belo Horizonte (FIT), Minas Gerais, to a sold out audience. Jo also gave talks at FLUPPensa, as part of FLUPP (Literary Festival for Peripherial Populations) actions – in 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, and has integrated activities related gender identity at Cidade de Deus (City of God favela). Supporting this international literary festival within the favelas, which is now in its 5th edition, is part of the British Council’s initiative, through the Transform program, to decentralize the artistic production circuit by creating access and inclusion for all.

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| Music | Museums | Drama and Dance | Film and Literature | Creative Economy & Cultural Skills | Accessibility and Human Rights |