In a small theatre space on the fourth floor of the Kilden Performing Arts Centre, the venue hosting the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2019, there is a group of wonderful people meeting together to do some incredible work.
IIAN is an official network of ASSITEJ (the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People), working to make Theatre for Young Audiences more inclusive for those with different accessibility needs.
In the seminar at this Gathering, it was explained that one billion people around the world have a disability, making this demographic the largest minority in the world. IIAN is all about giving everyone a chance to participate in the Performing Arts in all sorts of different capacities. Crucially, it offers an “an on-line community for anyone who are interested in learning about, creating or programming inclusive work for young audiences.”
Vicky Ireland, Secretary of the IIAN board, and Lars Verner Thomsen, a board member, were hosting the seminar. Looking around the room, you get a feeling of just how important everybody finds this work. It was truly an international group – with 13 delegates representing 9 different countries. Watching the delegates from Japan, South Korea, Belgium, England, Canada, Finland, Russia, Denmark, and Norway, it was clear to me just how committed the delegates in attendance are to improving accessibility for all, and to exploring all the different elements of Theatre production that this entails. Many of the discussions were focused on financing, budgeting, and encouraging sponsorship in order to achieve the greatest breadth and depth of aesthetic outcomes for those with different accessibility needs. The networking event was incredibly successful in this way, giving everybody an insight into how their global colleagues tackle the various different aspects of their work to achieve inclusive outcomes.
As a local living in Kristiansand (Norway), I have felt incredibly blessed to have such a large international event take place at my local venue and, I must say, seeing such a committed and diverse group of delegates come together in this way really brought home to me the impact a small, regional venue can have upon key issues taking place at a global scale.
All in all, an amazingly successful seminar with a lot of important input and shared passions on display.