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International Seminar ‘Museum for All. Inclusive Cultural Projects: the Swedish Experience’

On November 10, 2016 the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus hosted the international practical seminar ‘Museum for All. Inclusive cultural projects: the Swedish experience’

On October 3, 2016, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Belarus ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that had been signed by the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on September 28, 2015. The Convention had already been signed by 158 states including states of the European Union. The Convention aims to promote social integration of disabled in civil, political, economic, social and cultural fields, to prevent discrimination on the basis of disability and to protect disabled by ensuring their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It is not a secret that many Belarusian museums have no conditions to accept disabled visitors because of the lack of ramps and stair lifts, special audio guides and other devices requiring significant financial investments. However, there are some museum projects which could be realized on their own or with the aid of volunteers.

In 2015, the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus held ‘The Art at the Finger Tips’ exhibition (in collaboration with the “Mivia” creative team) for visually disabled visitors. It became the first project for people with hearing disabilities, the special programs for wheelchair people followed later. The project had great acclaim and in the following year it will be continued: 25 museum pictures will get special audio description that will provide visually disabled people with the opportunity to visit the museum using special audio guides and to see paintings on the description. The project is carried out in collaboration with the Polish organization “Human DOC”, which had studied the experience of Polish museums and offered its assistance for organizing seminars. The audio guides will be also recorded on tablets to accompany the guided tour in sign language, it is planned to do by the time of the European Games of 2019. It promises to be the first experience of this kind in Belarusian museum field.

The seminar was opened by Uladzimir Prakaptsou, the Director General of the National Art Museum, who stressed the importance of inclusive work organized by the ShareMusic & Performing Arts (Sweden).

ShareMusic & Performing Arts is a non-profit organization creating performances in collaboration with well-known artists, painters and choreographers who are open for sharing the stage with people of different abilities. The participants give performances on tour both across Sweden and abroad. The performance given by disabled in wheelchairs on equal basis with people without disabilities was also a part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Natalia Semenyako, the chairman of the “Belarusian Association of Assistance to Disabled Children and Young People” (Homel), the winner of the Republican competition “Woman of the Year – 2011” in nomination “For Charity and Mercy” (Homel) told about Homel experience of organizing similar activities.

Sofia Alexandersson, the director of ShareMusic&Performing Arts organization (Sweden) made the presentation about inclusion in the art (Inclusion in the art: the synthesis of arts and collaborative creative process). The choreographer Helen Karabuda (Sweden) presented 11-minute movie «The Eye Of The Norm», the musician and composer Mike Frye (the United Kingdom) performed music improvisation using the latest electronic music application.

The seminar was attended by Magnus Sötterberg, the Second Secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden to the Republic of Belarus; Yahor Novikau, the partnership coordinator for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF); museum workers from different regions of Belarus and young artists.