British Council fund of €4 million to disabled performing artists for their international work

A four-year international programme for disabled performing artists, with funding of €4 million, has been established to support their work in Europe. Led by British Council, Europe Beyond Access includes a €2m grant from Creative Europe, and will include six other main partners across the continent. 

The fund intends to help develop the work of diabled artists in theatre and dance, while also building a network that will commission and promote their work. More than 900 artists will be directly involved with the project, which aims to expose 70,000 people to work by disabled artists. It will include 14 commissions of work by disabled artists and disability-led companies; 20 artist residencies; five international “artistic laboratories”; and 21 festivals. Each partner has committed to increasing its own disabled audience by 30% amd will distribute best practice toolkits in seven languages.

The project’s main aims are:

  • Supporting disabled artists to “internationalise” their work and careers
  • Developing a network of leading mainstream organisations with a commitment to presenting and commissioning the work of disabled artists at the highest level
  • Building European audiences interested in work by disabled artists
  • Developing relevant tools and understanding in the wider performing arts market
  • Building disabled audiences for theatre and dance

Ben Evans, the British Council’s Head of Arts and Disability for the European Union region, said: “We are delighted that the innovation and excellence of Europe’s disabled artists has been recognised by the Creative Europe programme. Europe Beyond

Access aims to transform the European arts sector, by proving beyond doubt that disabled artists are making some of the most innovative and excellent work of our age.

He said it was exciting for the British Council that so many British artists would be contributing to the project.

“The UK has a world-renowned Disability Arts sector, but even the best known of our disabled artists and companies face barriers in developing genuine artistic collaborations overseas,” said Evans. “We hope that Europe Beyond Access will transform careers as well as the wider arts sector.”

All the partners will participate in a final conference in Brussels in June 2022, where outcomes will be presented.

'Artificial Things', Stopgap Dance Company / Image: Chris Parkes


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