Centering access and inclusion at the fringes

By Morwenna Collett: For Complete Post, click here…

Fringe festivals internationally and locally are showing us what an accessible future could look like.

3 December is International Day of People with Disability – or ‘Crip Christmas’ as some of us in the disability community like to call it. And there’s no better time to reflect on the incredible work of Deaf and disabled artists, and the accessibility and inclusivity of our sector more broadly.

Access and inclusion are words that are popping up more often – whether through funding body requirements, national conference panel discussions or more prominent Deaf and disabled programming at ‘mainstream’ events. But which arts organisations and artists are truly doing access and inclusion work well, and where can we look for great examples to learn from?


Over recent years, Fringe Festivals internationally have been paving the way for what an accessible future could look like. As open access events, principles of access and inclusion are at their core.

Melbourne Fringe CEO Simon Abrahams says, ‘It feels important that we take a leadership position on something like accessibility because of our purpose. We enable participation no matter who you are.’[1]

International events such as Edinburgh Fringe have been working on improving not only physical access (a challenge in a city like Edinburgh) but also other access elements, such as making their festival more inclusive for people who are neurodiverse with initiatives such as their sensory backpacks.

In Australia, many of our Fringe Festivals are also deeply committed to accessibility, with Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth Fringes either already employing or about to employ year-round Access Coordinators to help embed access and inclusion across their organisations.

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