In a bid to connect inclusive festivals and embrace diversity and accessibility, UniSA and Australia-Korea Foundation are joining together with Adelaide arts organisations to take the message globally.
Supported by Korea Disability Arts and Culture Center, ‘Connect2Abilites: Creating Australia-Korea People-to-People Connections in Disability Arts’ seeks to help shape our society to be more accessible and is led by UniSA research team Ruth Rentschler OAM, Boram Lee and Kyung Hee University Professor Shin-Eui Park.
Two South Australian theatre companies will visit Korea to connect with people and arts with performances, forums and symposiums.
Featuring the work of Restless Dance Theatre and No Strings Attached, Boram Lee says the project will go a long way to de-stigmatising disability in Korea and around the world.
“This project is about putting together two different pieces of a puzzle, not knowing what final picture will emerge. One piece is about my ignorance of disability when growing up in a society where inclusion has not been a matter of discussion until recently. The other piece of the puzzle is about my gratitude for being exposed to a more diverse culture in South Australia, which has enabled me to open my eyes to the potential that people with different abilities and cultures could create together,” she says.
“I am new to Adelaide but it soon became obvious to me that there was something extraordinary about this place. I could not figure out how a city only one tenth the size of Seoul could host so many internationally renowned performing arts companies, each one of them working with artists with disability.”
Ruth Rentschler OAM, a world leader in diversity and inclusion research says, “It is a privilege to be able to change people’s lives. Our project will bridge the divide for people whose abilities need to be celebrated.”
Restless Dance Theatre has already spent some time in Korea recently and Artistic Director Michelle Ryan says this project will add to the connections and foundations of accessibility in arts.
“Restless sees Connect2Abilities as an important step forward to highlight diversity on the world stage. We feel this is a leadership responsibility to raise the profile of artists with disability to create astonishing works of art,” Michelle says.
To celebrate the project, UniSA and Australia-Korea Foundation will launch Connect2Abilities on Tuesday, 3 March 2020 at Fringe Club (188 Grenfell Street, Adelaide).
The launch will take the format of a forum to celebrate our first successful conversation between South Korea and Australia towards connecting different abilities of performing artists and will feature speakers: Adelaide Fringe Access and Inclusion Coordinator Kelly Vincent, and Access2Arts, Business Director Martin Sawtell.
Restless Dance Theatre and No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability will also share their exciting stories of international collaborations and experiences of presenting their works on global stages.
General Manager of No Strings Attached Kari Seeley says: “No Strings has a long-term commitment to investing in partnerships across the growing eco-system of disability arts in the Asia-Pacific Region through both professional performances and community engagement. Come and hear first-hand from No Strings actors as they share about their experiences of inclusion, creative collaboration, and celebrating ability through performance and community engagements on an international stage.”
Ruth Rentschler OAM, Boram Lee and Jung Yoon will welcome advocates for diversity and inclusion from all around the world to launch the program and be part of this next chapter in South Australian arts on a global platform.
Connect2abilities project has inclusion and the involvement of people with disabilities at its heart. By ‘connecting people to people’ we advance towards the creation of an inclusive society by fostering disability arts together with a group of academics, and support from the Australia-Korea Foundation and the Korea Disability Arts and Culture Centre. Connect2Abilities aims to kick-start dialogue between Australia and South Korea, to build understanding between disability arts workers and artists in both countries and to pave the way for future collaborations and long-term partnerships. The project provides a platform fostering cultural engagement and collaboration through a series of symposiums and workshops for artists, both with and without disabilities, presenters, academics and policymakers hosted in the Korea Disability Arts & Culture Centre in April 2020.