We, the disability performance working group, are deeply grateful for the conversation that has emerged since our action at the Sala Rosa. We would like to acknowledge the commitment of the organizers to dialogue and the solidarity of the artists involved in the Trasnocheos and other Encuentro participants.
The first day we met we were shocked that one of the major venues of Encuentro was inaccessible and furthermore this was not communicated through the program. In response several members of our group climbed the stairs of the Sala Rosa to make evident and unavoidable the inaccessibility of the space. Inaccessibility is a daily violence, supported by a culture of ableism, encountered by people experiencing disability and their allies, particularly in Montreal.
As part of the action an ironic ‘elevator fund’ was presented, and to our surprise participants generously donated a total of $158.45. We will, in turn, donate this money to local Montreal activists doing important work around creating a more accessible Montreal. In solidarity with this work we will be circulating a petition targeted at the municipal and provincial authorities, calling for a more accessible Montreal.
Of the Encuentro Organizers, we strongly advise:
- Immediate communication and transparency to all participants about the inaccessibility of any remaining events in the festival.
- An official statement at the closing ceremonies with a formal commitment to disability accessibility and engagement at future festivals.
- Presentation of a statement and petition around Montreal accessibility to appropriate municipal and provincial authorities.
- Designation of an accessibility officer on all future Festival organizing Committees, with specific accessibility knowledge. They would not only ensure the accessibility of venues but also ensure the clear communication of any remaining barriers.
- We insist that disability should not be treated as a personal deficit to be accommodated, but as systemically marginalized communities with rich performance and political histories. As such, future performance programming should include explicitly political disability performance.
We invite all Encuentro organizers and participants to consider this moment as a point of learning and take radical access principles back to their communities of practice and accountability. Back-stories about this action, contacts, photos, and resources are available are at: mia.mobilities.ca under ‘Manifest’.
Translations of this text forthcoming. For further information please contact Danielle Peers ( email@example.com), Baraka de Soleil ( firstname.lastname@example.org) or Laurence Parent ( email@example.com)
The Disability Performance Working Group