Two thousand and twenty-two is coming to an end and next year we will celebrate our 10th anniversary! Time passes quickly and the journey has been rich and rewarding – but also, at times, dispairing. The change we wish for is happening slowly; but it is happening, thanks to so many people working in the field, colleagues with whom we share a vision for the future.
The beginning of 2022 was precisely marked by an update of our vision. It was shared publicly, along with the seven values that we choose as the most important for this time.
One of the most notable events was the creation of the Network of Theaters with Accessible Programming, which has the support of BPI/La Caixa Foundation and is coordinated by Acesso Cultura. Its first year of activity was the 2021-2022 season. Having started with five members, it now counts seven, in different points of the country. We’ve learned a lot together, we defined and fine-tuned policies and procedures, we helped to reach more people, some of whom had never entered a theater, because they didn’t have access to the programming.
In May, we concluded the Art and Disability project, which started in 2019 and which had the support of the British Council and the Portuguese Arts Council. We invested in the training of different professionals in the sector, we carried out a mentoring programme and, this year, we concluded with an inspiring seminar that allowed us to learn about the work of different British artistic organisations.
This is also the year that the first major European project of which Acesso Cultura was a partner was concluded: Every Story Matters. The focus of the project was the promotion of inclusion through literature for children and young people. The opening conference was in Lisbon, in November 2019 and the last meeting of the partners was at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2022. In between, masterclasses, workshops in several libraries in the country, and also, six books of six new talents. All this material, and even more, is still available on the project’s website. Another legacy of the project is our training course on bibliodiversity, which we will hold next year.
We continued discussing barriers to cultural participation, firstly thanks to PARTIS & Art for Change programme by La Caixa Foundation and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, and then thanks to the work of the artistic organisation Terra Amarela. These projects took us to different parts of the country, as – following the publication of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation survey on the cultural habits of the Portuguese – it has become even more necessary and urgent to gain a deeper understanding of people’s relationship to Culture, no matter who they are and where they live.
Another major project was the training in audio description for nine people from different parts of the country. This would not have happened without the commitment and generosity of different agents: the Regional Directorates of Culture of the North, Algarve and Madeira; the Municipal Councils of Funchal and Porto; and also El Corte Inglés. We wanted to respond to the urgent need to have more people with good technical preparation to provide this service, which is fundamental for visually impaired people to have access to culture.