Around 150 representatives from performing arts companies and performance facilities across Taiwan attended a program titled "Inclusive Art Workshops," which was co-hosted on July 11 by the Ministry of Culture and the National Theater and Concert Hall (NTCH), to discuss making performances and venues more accessible to teens, parents with young children, the elderly, and those living with disabilities.
NTCH Executive and Artistic Director Ann Yi-ruu Liu (劉怡汝) pointed out that the Taipei-based national theater and concert hall made the most of an overhauling project launched several years ago to improve their barrier-free facilities.
Now the two sites are bettering the quality of their inclusive services by increasing the number of plays that are accompanied by audio description, providing subtitles for performances, and making program flyers easier to read and understand. Also, for the first time, the two venues will provide childcare to encourage parents with young children to attend showings, Liu added.
NTCH consultant Sandie Chun-shan Yi (易君珊) and Cymie Yeung (楊慧珊), universal accessibility coordinator at Hong Kong's West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (香港西九文化區管理局), then offered their experience in pushing forward and implementing projects that remove hurdles to true cultural accessibility and equality.
Yi, a practicing artist and disability activist, chaired a panel discussing the various inconveniences faced by audience members with different disabilities at art performances, leading lecturers from different sectors to share their respective experiences with inclusive arts. Participants also gained a better understanding of the needs of visually- and hearing-impaired individuals after experiencing tours guided by touch and sign language.
The Ministry noted that it supports the Executive Yuan's Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, which offers financial assistance and consultations to performance facilities in both cities and counties across Taiwan to improve their infrastructure and service quality.
This workshop is the second of a trilogy planned by the Ministry as part of its campaign to boost Taiwan's equal cultural accessibility by targeting customer-facing staff members of performance facilities and theater artists. The hope is that these participants will join policy planning or program design at their organizations upon completing training.
The first session was staged on June 24 at the Taikang Cultural Center (台江文化中心) in Tainan. The third one taking place at the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (衛武營國家文化藝術中心) in October will address how the world-class venue can facilitate the development of arts throughout southern Taiwan in cooperation with local performance facilities.