Q&A on Accessibility in the Arts

"Once you start actually looking, you can see the many barriers that could inhibit some people’s regular enjoyment of life – most people take it for granted." - Naomi Campbell, Deputy Artistic Director, Luminato

Jun 11, 2018 | BY: Luminato

At Luminato, we and our artistic and venue partners are committed to presenting a festival that is accessible to everyone, including people living with disabilities. We strive to present our work in the most physically accessible venues possible, and offer information about the potential barriers of less accessible spaces. At the heart of Luminato’s accessibility commitment are specialized performances: Relaxed Performances for people who benefit from a more informal environment, including those with sensory or communication disorders or learning disabilities; American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreted Performances; and Audio Described Performances for people who are blind or have vision loss.
We’re excited to have The Daniels Corporation as our new Accessibility Partner to bring Luminato to an even wider audience.
We caught up with Luminato Deputy Artistic Director Naomi Campbell Rebecca Singh, founder of Live Describe Audio Description and our friends at The Daniels Corporation to get their thoughts on why accessibility is important and the ways that they’re working together to make Luminato more accessible. 


Naomi Campbell is Deputy Artistic Director at Luminato and this year has spearheaded the internal movement towards a more accessible festival in 2018. 

Q: What is your role in making Luminato more accessible?
A: Over the past 2 years I have worked closely with our wonderful Accessibility Consultant Christine Karcza of ‘I can do this!’ to make Luminato more accessible to as many people as possible. Christine has been an incredible resource and an inspiring force for Luminato, as we have developed policies and programmes to improve our accessibility, in person and online, in theatres and the office, with our staff and volunteers. I have also worked closely with other consultants to implement Relaxed, ASL Interpreted and Audio Described Specialized Performance, so that our shows become welcoming to more people.
Q: Why is accessibility important in the arts?
A: Everybody should be able to experience arts and culture; there is no reason  why anyone should be denied experiencing this important part of life. As an organization we are working to remove all the barriers that have been put in place (unintentionally perhaps, but significant still) that limit some people’s enjoyment of all that Luminato has to offer. As a festival that celebrates the city and the world, we have a duty to make our work available to as many people as possible.
Q: What is your vision for an accessible city?
A: Once you start actually looking, you can see the many barriers that could inhibit some people’s regular enjoyment of life – most people take it for granted. The capacity to enter buildings, go to the washroom, make a purchase in a shop, receive information, or enjoy cultural events should be equal for everyone. Luminato is contributing to a city that not only supports this but actually manifests this vision.

To hear more about Naomi Campbell's work to make Luminato accessible, listen to her interview with Kelly and Company.
Rebecca Singh is an artist, producer, audio describer and has extensive experience consulting and curating for festivals, institutions and foreign ministries.

Q: What is your role in making Luminato more accessible?
A: I’m offering  touch tours and audio description services for select performances of Swan Lake/Loch na hEala and Out the Window. Audio Description makes live performances, visual art exhibitions, parades, sports and other cultural opportunities more accessible to people who are blind or partially sighted. Professional describers adhere to guidelines and codes of conduct and do not keep a running commentary, but rather talk about the essential, visual aspects of the production in order to help listeners share the total experience of the performance.
Q: Why is accessibility important in the arts?
A: Accessibility is important period. Art is a vital part of what shapes a healthy society and so, like sport, access to it should be universal. We all deserve the opportunity to be able to play an active role in the arts be it as creator or audience, speaker or listener, giver or receiver, and anything/everything in between. The arts, like the sciences, also often act as a spark for innovation that can inspire both the public and private sectors to implement changes that make spaces better for people.
Q: What still bothers you about how accessibility is treated? 
A: It bugs me that access is thought of as a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ option when plans are being made. Fortunately, with more institutions and businesses becoming familiar with Universal Design and its benefits, accessibility is being seen as less of a "special project" and more of a way of being. Kudos to Luminato for having this refreshing perspective and embracing access as a core value!
The Daniels Corporation is one of Canada’s largest builder/developers. In Regent Park, Daniels partnered with Artscape, Toronto Community Housing and members of the local community to create Daniels Spectrum. 
Q: What is your role in making Luminato more accessible?
A: By sharing our program insights into making arts more accessible to everyone, together with Luminato, we help build awareness and widen participation in the arts.
Q: Why is accessibility important in the arts?
A: Daniels’ Accessibility Designed program was created to give people with a range of abilities the opportunity to live in their homes without limitations. We believe people should be able to experience art in the same way.
Q: When did you decide to focus on making the arts more accessible?
A: Daniels has always been a passionate supporter of the arts - not only in the design of our buildings, but in our approach to building communities and in the organizations that we support. We’ve always believed that the arts contribute to a vibrant culture and enrich lives.  

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