The British Council, in partnership with Dhaka Theatre and Institute of Informatics and Development (IID), marked the launch of three-year-long capacity development project DARE (Disability Arts: Redefining Empowerment). The launch event was held during a consultation titled ‘Inclusive Arts: Exploring Disability Arts in Bangladesh’. The workshop was arranged at the Six Seasons Hotel, Dhaka on 11 - 12 December. 

Using arts as a medium, the consultation is an attempt to build goodwill for creating positive perception changes regarding disability and empowering persons with disability through innovative approaches by bringing different communities together.

The first day of the consultation included discussions around the status quo of the arts sector, disability sector and disability arts sector of Bangladesh. With the aim to identify solution-driven approaches for the disability community, the programme facilitated four brainstorming sessions on policy implications, infrastructural support, communication and awareness and financing, which generated specific recommendations on the topics that can be utilised while working in the disability and art sectors in the country.

After a day’s worth of brainstorming and discussions, the second day consisted of the presentation with findings from the previous day and policy discussion in the form of ‘Policy Breakfast’. The policy breakfast opened with exploring the ideas of disability and disability arts from a conceptual standpoint. It was emphasised that any form of art, whether created by persons with disabilities or not, should be considered as pure art. This was followed by a lively discussion among the participants of the workshop. The audience panel consisted of people with disabilities, and they also discussed whether the focus should be put on the artists or audience with disabilities to facilitate inclusion.

“Inclusion of disability community in arts can have a tremendous social impact," stated Nasir Uddin Yousuf Bachchu, renowned film and theatre director, and the Founder of Dhaka Theatre. "The experience of producing ‘A Different Romeo and Juliet’ with actors with disabilities in 2016 has taught me that, not only it opened up a new horizon for the participating artists, it also encourages audience with disabilities to experience more artistic and cultural activities.”

The two-day event was inaugurated by Dr Md. Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal, Secretary, Ministry of Cultural Affairs. Notable presence in the event also included Khadiza Nazneen, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Social Welfare, Vashkar Bhattacharjee, Programme Manager and Head of YPSA’s Information, Communication, Technology and Resource Centre on Disabilities (IRCD), Tom Miscioscia, Director Bangladesh, British Council and Andrew Newton, Deputy Director, British Council.