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Arts for All

Cope Foundation won the 'Arts and Culture' category with their practice 'Art for All' which provides a safe and supported way for people accessing services to engage meaningfully with the arts sector.

Name of the Practice: Arts for All Cork

Organisation: Cope Foundation (Suisha Arts)

Description of organisation: Cope Foundation is a non-profit organisation which supports over 2,800 children and adults with intellectual disabilities and/or autism throughout Cork City and County in Ireland. Cope Foundation offers a broad range of services in over 70 locations from early interention, assessments, education, residential supports, community hubs, older people, employment and arts.

Country: Cork, Ireland

Year of initiation: 2014

Funding of practice: ‘Arts for All Cork’ is funded from a range of sources: Cork City Council, Health Service Executive of Ireland (HSE), “Covid Resilience Fund” through the Cork City Local Community Development Committee (LCDC), Cope Foundation, Cork Education and Training Board (CETB).

Link to UNCRPD: Article 30 – Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport

Description of practice: ‘Arts for All Cork’ was created by Cope Foundation’s community-based arts initiative Suisha Arts and other partners, as part of the foundation’s aim to raise awareness of disability arts and work in the sector. This practice operates within the framework of the Local Economic and Community Plan (LECP), which looks to support the economic development and the local and community development of Cork City.

‘Arts for All’ is a strategic group made up of representatives from disability organisations, disability self-advocates, arts organisations, universities and local representatives. This initiative targets the mainstreaming of and awareness of disability arts, addressing the lack of representation and implementation of rights for persons with disabilities in Cork, in the arts and cultural sector.

The project has grown in momentum, with many of the city's main artistic and cultural players getting involved to address the lack of representation for artists with disabilities and discuss what can be done.

Problem targeted: There is a lack of effective representation of disabled and marginalised artists within the Cork creative and cultural scene. Minimal mainstreaming of work created and performed by disabled artists results in poor implementation and awareness of the principles set out by the UNCRPD. Moreover, the arts community can often be highly competitive due to the nature of the funding structures that exist. This results in a lack of infrastructure, lack of cooperation between stakeholders and poor knowledge sharing.

Solution offered: ‘Arts for All Cork’ focuses on what Cork and its creative community can do collectively to address issues of marginalisation of artists with disabilities. The group has lobbied for and created new, sustainable pathways for disabled artists to engage with ‘mainstream’ arts education, art exhibitions and performances. They have advocated for equal payment for disabled artists and access for disabled audiences to city venues. Disabled artists and arts organisations are also invited to attend Disability Equality Trainings led by Suisha Arts with internationally recognised disabled artists. This open communication between the disability community and mainstream arts organisations promotes a safe platform for disabled artists to express their frustration at the social, communicative, attitudinal, and physical barriers that exist. The alliance further highlights the work of disabled artists through events called ‘Platform Gatherings’ which provide a space for anybody in the arts community and beyond to come and experience the work of marginalised artists.

Impact Generated by Practice: Having gained the respect of many within the disability and arts community, it has been highlighted to the National Government Agency responsible for the LECP as an example of what is possible and a potential model for replication throughout Ireland. This practice has provided a safe and supported way for people accessing services to engage meaningfully with the arts sector, encouraging discourse and knowledge sharing within the sector. This has led to reduced fear of disability and increased opportunities for disabled creatives and arts organisations to work together on progressive projects.

Sustainability of Practice: In terms of new developments, the Cork ETB, HSE and Cork City Council are all considering a collective fund for designated staffing for Arts for All. The practice has been verbally approved with a viable level of funding and staff hosting; this will augment its governance structures and will provide the group a more formal footing. In addition to this, the members have agreed to the creation of an “Inclusive Arts Charter” for Cork City. It is expected that members of the strategic group and network members will sign up to this charter in November 2021.

To ensure sustainability, it is envisaged that this process can be further developed throughout the EU, exploring projects and providing training to the sector through a range of programmes.

Contact Information: Eoin Nash, Manager of Arts and Creative Arts Therapies

Additional links: Arts for All Cork Website at www.artsforall.ie.