“Accessible and inclusive culture” is one of Creative Europe’s key aims.

The EC’s European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 aims to “remove barriers to equal participation in…leisure activities”.

Therefore, “Audience Blending by Arts “ (ABbA) is accepted and granted by the European Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency as a cooperation project in the budget line “Creative Europe”.

The project partners decided to use for the open internet platform a broader name to connect deaf theatre and actors in Europe: Signandsoundtheatre.eu.

Sign & Sound Theatre addresses both by removing “attitudinal barriers”, exploring new ways to produce inclusive arts, for inclusive audiences. It aims to lead to artists and spectators, with(out) disabilities, enjoying the same theatre experience at the same time, and without one artist/audience being favored over another. It works on a Europe-wide problem around lack of inclusion in the arts.

It does this through 3 strands of activity:

  • Test ways of cooperation between cultural centres and service providers to work together to engage a range of audiences (with(out) disabilities) in inclusive art performances.
  • Encourage deaf and hearing artists to collaborate through piloting (play: guardians of dreams) a new theatre technique – Innovative Bilingual Theatre (IBT) – using integrated sign and oral language.
  • Trial ways to adapt IBT for other different needs and media, e.g. blind, learning difficulties.

The project provides capacity building and transnational mobility through workshops in three areas:

  • For cultural and service provider organisations, to learn how to engage audiences with different needs in the arts (theatre as a trial);
  • For artistic directors, to learn how to use IBT as a tool for developing inclusive theatre performances (or adapt it to other media and needs);
  • For artists, to learn how to perform using IBT in collaboration between artists with different needs (e.g. hearing and deaf).

The pilot IBT performance is a play produced by 6 partner countries, and premiered and toured in each.

The project concludes with a conference in Brussels, (International Deaf Week, 9/19). This will include results and feedback from the workshops and performances, and will present the guidelines and the recommendations for European policy makers.