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Shape helps arts organisations better understand disabled people as audiences

  • Date: 20 August 2013
  • Area: London
People standing and sitting in wheelchairs in front of a sculture

A visit to the Dulwich Picture Gallery .

'Understanding disabled people as audiences' is Shape's first annual report looking at audience behaviour and audience development in 2012-13. It aims to help organisations to better understand disabled people as audiences, the barriers they may face and how they access the sector.

The report highlights that the single biggest barrier to attending arts and cultural events is transport, with many disabled people lacking the confidence to use public transport. For those who do attend arts and cultural events and activities, some of the most common access requirements identified include seating near the front, leg room and level access.

Shape, an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation, develops opportunities for disabled artists; it trains cultural institutions to be more open to disabled people and runs participatory arts and development programmes.

An important aim for the Arts Council is to ensure that everyone across England has the opportunity to enjoy great art and culture. Shape's report provides arts organisations with important insights and guidance on how they can ensure that disabled people have an equal opportunity to enjoy all that they have to offer.

Tony Heaton OBE, Chief Executive, Shape, said: 'Despite many improvements in physical access, there are still many barriers to disabled people attending arts and cultural events. It is really important that, as a sector, we are committed to audience development and diversity; creating an arts and culture sector in which everyone can participate, equally, independently, with choice and with dignity.'

Joyce Wilson, Area Director, London, Arts Council England, said: 'It is really important that the arts and culture sector in England is fully inclusive, ensuring that a highly diverse audience has the opportunity to enjoy all that it has to offer. This report will provide organisations with insights into how they can further enable access to arts and culture by Deaf and disabled people, the challenges which their current practice can present to Deaf and disabled audiences, and what steps they can take to ensure everyone can participate equally.'