Art and Disability is a regional art initiative of the British Council where the countries of South Asia have been running various projects engaging disabled artists and creative professionals with the primary objective of fostering the arts sector and the society as an inclusive space. This is done through the help of UK disabled artists and inclusive art organisations who have been sharing their expertise with their South Asian counterparts. The aim of the project is to facilitate disabled artists, disabled-led companies and art organisations as well as to help art organisations realise an accessible working model for their projects, benefiting both producers and viewers all the while, through their work, counteracting misunderstandings, misconceptions, stereotypes and negative narratives surrounding the lives of disabled people. Disability arts is a key strategic priority for the British Council globally.
In Nepal, the project was introduced in March 2019 through a strategic partnership with Nepali International Theatre Festival, the country’s flagship theatre programme, and through a theatre arts and disability workshop facilitated by UK theatre group Birds of Paradise. After the conclusion of the workshops, grants were awarded to the workshop participants initiating four short-term projects scheduled to be concluded by September.
The stigmatisation of disability has been a primary concern in Nepal, deeply rooted in its socio-cultural attitudes and while artists and art organisations have, in the past, attempted to explore this issue, much of what is generated isolates disabled people as their struggles and experiences are looked through a third-persons lens and they are rarely involved in the production themselves. These types of works are driven by sympathy and is little of what disabled people go through and about in their lives. So, to address this issue, the British Council is following the Nothing About Us Without Us code which encourages the direct participation of disabled artists and viewers to practice inclusivity and bring forth change in society.