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From Access To Inclusion, An Arts and Culture Summit


9–22 March 2021

Arts & Disability Ireland collaborated with The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Office of Accessibility and VSA, Washington, D.C. to deliver From Access to Inclusion, an arts and culture Summit across 2021.

From Access to Inclusion gathered the most thought-provoking leaders and advocates in access and inclusion in arts and culture from across the globe. This dynamic international Summit was a unique opportunity to exchange ideas and discover new and innovative ways to create accessible and inclusive experiences.

Split across two Phases in March in October, the Summit included three event strands; intimate online Workshops by leading experts in access and inclusion, a three day international Symposium with networking opportunities, and a programme of online Evening Events which showcased access in action by cultural venues and organisations.

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Sessions were essential for professionals at all levels in the arts, cultural and tourism sectors such as those working in: venues, festivals, galleries, museums, heritage sites and visitor experiences. In addition to those who deliver, programme or present accessible and inclusive experiences, From Access to Inclusion was relevant for policymakers, funders and administrators who are committed to embedding a more holistic approach to accessible arts and cultural programming at a local, regional, national and international level.

The Summit was not intended to address professional development for artists with disabilities or arts education. For artist resources, find out more here.

There were many reasons to attend From Access and Inclusion, but here’s a quick recap of what was on offer:

  • Professional Growth: This international Summit created an open, discursive environment in which to build skills and practical knowledge and was tailored towards arts professionals of all experience levels.
  • Making Connections: With a range of networking opportunities on offer throughout the Summit, delegates could meet and mingle with likeminded colleagues from across the globe.
  • Skills Sharing: Delegates connected and learned from the extensive collective brain trust of arts managers from backgrounds in museums, theatres, parks, zoos, and other cultural venues from around the world.
  • Peer to Peer: Designed by engaging leading thinkers in accessibility, real life experiences and knowledge was generously shared to further deepen our understanding of accessibility and inclusivity.
  • Make it Happen: Delegates left the Summit with ideas and practical knowhow which could be implemented in organisations straight away.
  • Something for Everyone: A broad range of sessions and workshops purposefully catered for beginners and the more experienced, no matter their background.
  • Access in Action: The Summit provided delegates with an opportunity to learn about and experience accessibility services first-hand.

Summit Funders and Supporter logos from left to Right; The Kennedy Center, Arts Council, British Council Ireland, and Creative Europe Desk Ireland.

Arts & Disability Ireland was delighted to collaborate with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Office of Accessibility and VSA, Washington, D.C. to deliver our inaugural European Summit. From Access to Inclusion is modelled on The Kennedy Center’s conference, Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD®), the largest annual convening of access professionals and advocates in North America which returns in 2022 and will take place in Raleigh, North Carolina from August 1-5. Find out more here.

Arts & Disability Ireland also partnered with Irish Museum Association to deliver the final strand of Workshops as part of the Summit which took place from October 2021. Find out more here.

Arts & Disability Ireland would like to thank The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Office of Accessibility and VSA for their support and guidance throughout the development and delivery of this ambitious event.

Arts & Disability Ireland would also like to acknowledge and thank the Arts Council, the British Council (Ireland Office), Creative Europe Desk Ireland and Irish Museum Association for their support.

About Arts & Disability Ireland

Arts & Disability Ireland is Ireland’s national development and resource organisation for arts and disability.

We promote engagement with the arts at all levels – as professional artists, audience members and arts workers – for people of all ages with disabilities of all kinds. We work towards arts programmes and arts venues becoming fully accessible experiences for all audiences. We advocate for inclusive policy and practice which provides real access to all aspects of the arts for people with disabilities, and for everyone.


About The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Office of Accessibility and VSA

Serving the international disability, education and arts community, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Office of Accessibility and VSA provides opportunities for people with disabilities, of all ages, across the globe to learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts. A Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability program, the VSA and LEAD international networks support and offer a wide array of programs in cultural access, as well as the art and arts education programs and experiences for artists with disabilities.

Please visit us at: https://www.kennedy-center.org/education/vsa/