Final event of the FFE funded program on cultural participation of socially disadvantaged groups was held on 25 May 2022 at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad. The event gathered almost 50 students, professors, researchers, artists, leaders of cultural institutions, nonprofits and many more.
Key speakers were our students who presented their research. It included interviews with disabled persons, Roma people, elderly, homeless people, and citizens living in rural areas, as well as representatives of museums, cultural centres, media, theatres, libraries, and nonprofits. Although it is hard to sum up these diverse perspectives, the one thread in common is that everyone enjoys culture - but not all have equal access to it.
The data, presented during the event by dr Marijana Milankov and dr Slobodan Mrđa from the Institute of Researching Cultural Development, show that 57% of cultural institutions in Serbia have physical barriers that prevent access to their programs. In addition, ¾ of cultural institutions lack communication accessibility - they do not use adequate communication channels, they do not present their material in accessible ways, and lack the equipment.
How little effort is sometimes needed we learned from Željka Bosnar Salihagić, a director of Typhlological Museum in Zagreb, Croatia. This unique institution collects, stores, researches, documents and communicates tangible and non-tangible materials related to disabled people, with an emphasis on people with visual impairment. It is a home of exhibitions that are open and interesting to all.
We closed the event in a lively and dynamic debate. It showed that there is an agreement on the obstacles and barriers, but that there are different views on why they exist and how they should be removed. Disagreement did not prevent us from taking a group photo.