Saturday 03 December 2022

On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the British Council co-hosted today the Fourth UK-China Disability Arts Forum, together with Beijing Body On and On Culture Centre and Beijing Minsheng Art Museum, to continue promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in arts and culture.

The pandemic has worsened social inequality, and the dialogue to create an equitable society with accessible support for deaf and disabled communities is needed than ever when we plan our ways towards a post pandemic world. We believe that arts and culture are catalysts for changes to strengthen social cohesion through a creative perspective.

Building on the success from the previous forums with the acknowledgement of the social model of disability, the forum this year brought together speakers from the UK and China under the theme of “Connection & Action”.

Danny Whitehead, Deputy Country Director China, British Council, said: “While everybody continues to face the challenges of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, people with disabilities may face more isolation, disconnection, and disruption. The British Council follows and promotes the social model of disability which recognises that people are often not disabled through their own impairments or relative ability, but through social attitudes and physical and attitudinal barriers which result in marginalisation. Arts and culture are powerful tools to help break down unhelpful attitudes and ignorance, to build resilience and confidence, and to nurture equitable spaces and communities where everyone feels they belong. We are proud to work with the dynamic, creative, and inspirational British and Chinese artists and institutions in this aspect.”

The Forum featured five keynote speakers from the UK and China to share their exploration and reflection on disability arts, including Jenny Sealey from Graeae Theatre, musician and technology innovator Kris Halpin, deaf visual artist Alice Hu, independent curator and producer Lynn Fu, theatre director Ran Chen. Following the keynote speeches, there was a panel discussion around “Disability confidence in arts and cultural organisations”, aiming to deepen the dialogues between different communities, discuss the deficiencies in knowledge and capacity building, encourage arts and cultural organisations to lead on the development of an inclusive culture.

This forum was live-streamed on multiple platforms with accessible support including sign language interpretation, Chinese-English simultaneous interpretation and captions and video subtitles.

Notes to Editor

About Beijing Body On and On Culture Centre

Body On&On is a contemporary cultural and artistic programming and producing organisation taking body as its basis. With the philosophy of "everything starts from the body", Body On&On is deeply committed to the arts and public welfare field. Since its inception in 2019, Body On&On has initiated projects such as the Body Interview Project, Luminous Festival (the first inclusive arts festival in China), Touch Contact Improvisation Festival, Body Nomad Project, UK-China Disability Arts Forum, "Access for Change" Platform and Contemporary Body Workshop to stimulate intellectual, sensual and conscious body fields, dedicated to exploring the body's contemporary energy and the social value of arts, and jointly promoting individual growth and social inclusion.

About Beijing Minsheng Art Museum

Beijing Minsheng Art Museum is a private art museum fully funded by China Minsheng Bank, and dedicated to research, collection, exhibition, education and dissemination of Chinese modern and contemporary art. The mission of the museum is to analyze the history of modern and contemporary art in China, to summarize the trends of development and creations, to support the growth of young artists, and to develop international communication and cooperation in modern art. Since opening in 2015, the Beijing Minsheng Art Museum has held 50 art exhibitions and over 400 public education events, attracting more than two million visitors in person and online, and garnering widespread praise across the industry.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education and the English language. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2021–22 we reached 650 million people.