Arts and Accessibility

The ACT Government supports access to the arts for all Canberrans and works closely with the arts and disability sectors to increase the cultural participation of people living with a disability. The Social Inclusion in the Arts: 2017 Plan provides an insight into what is already happening in the ACT arts sector, and what we can do in the future to improve access and inclusion in arts events and programs.

We encourage our organisations to work with communities to provide access to arts facilities for people to participate actively or as an audience. Our organisations already have strong ties to communities and provide ways for people with mixed abilities to experience the arts. The case studies on Ignite: Alternative Arts Academy and Rebus Theatre tell some of these stories.

artsACT documents are available in alternative formats upon request. Formats include: printed in normal or large print, emailed in PDF or Word format. If you require a document in an alternative format please Contact Us.

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech difficulty, you can Contact Us through the National Relay Service (NRS).

Community Arts and Cultural Development

The Community Arts and Cultural Development (CACD) Program is an initiative of the ACT Government. It aims to give every ACT resident a unique opportunity to contribute to the community’s artistic and cultural landscape and provide services across Canberra including to those most vulnerable. Find more information on the Community Arts and Cultural Development web page.

Accessibility resources for organisations and artists

These resources will give you information and practical steps for making your art or organisation more accessible. Access refers to removing barriers to participation. Resources cover physical accessibility, such as exhibition design, and inclusion in artistic practice and programs for people who live with disability and mental illness.

It is important to make sure the community you want to work with is represented throughout the processes of planning and delivering work, events or programs.

Physical Access


Accessibility standards and guidelines

The Smithsonian page provides a number of standards and guidelines for accessibility. This includes legislation, architectural barriers and exhibition setup. The resources are American, therefore the legislation will not apply. However, the guidelines are good guidelines to adhere to. The page containing a number of documents can be found here External Link.

Smithsonian guidelines for accessible exhibition design

The document provides a number of design tools that are meant to be mixed, matched and tested in different combinations to find workable solutions. An online PDF version of the guidelines can be found here External Link. Some of the topics addressed are:

  • Guidelines for access for people with disabilities
  • Language use that appropriately describes people with disabilities
  • Exhibition content: ideas for presentation of exhibition content for more than one sensory experience
  • How to label including text type and font sizes
  • Lighting
  • Colour
Beyond Physical Access

Arts Access Victoria 

Victoria's leading arts and disability organisation. Their website contains useful resources for access and inclusive arts practice. Some helpful resources are listed below. For more information go to the Arts Access Victoria website here External Link.

Arts for Everyone - Approaches to Inclusive Practice.

A publication to assist individuals, artists and organisations wishing to undertake inclusive art projects. The publication can be found here External Link.

  • Assists in defining goals of projects and the steps required to set up the project for success and sustainability.
  • A guide to developing and delivering meaningful opportunities in an arts, disability and mental health context.
  • The publication is for, but not limited to:
    • Artists with disability, mental issues and who are Deaf
    • Local government cultural or community development workers
    • Service providers
    • Health providers
    • Allied health providers
    • Arts and cultural organisations
    • Community organisations
    • Artist facilitators
    • Support workers
    • Carers and families
    • People who are already engaged in arts, disability, mental health and the Deaf communities and want to lead a dialogue about inclusive practice.

Accessible Arts NSW 


The resources page has a number of helpful documents to make arts organisations more accessible. The website can be accessed hereExternal Link.

  • Checklists are available for arts and cultural organisations to assist in improving access and developing audiences. Checklists cover areas such as marketing and communications, transport, building maintenance and access, exhibition environments and more.
  • Downloadable universal access symbols are available.

Art and You: A Planning Guide

A downloadable booklet for people with disability, mental health issues or who are Deaf to help them talk about why art is important in their lives. The booklet and information about the booklet can be found here External Link.

The booklet contains:

  • Chapters outlining rights as an artist.
  • Chapters to answer questions, brainstorm and draw.
  • Exercises in the booklet are designed to help articulate why art is important to the user.
  • The booklet helps users feel confident to talk about their art making to make friends, family, health professionals, and NDIS planners understand why it is important.

Interact resource kit

A resource to assist those who want to work in integrated performance settings. Interact includes workshop plans and case studies, which can be found on their website hereExternal Link.

Workshop plans External Link

  • Plans are from the Mixed Abilities Ensemble performance training program for people with and without a disability.
  • They include performance making, movement and vocal skills.
  • The aim of the document is for those unfamiliar with integrated performance training to gain awareness into the process.
  • The plans can be used by those looking for new ideas in their own workshops
  • The document reaffirms that working with an integrated group is not all about reinventing the wheel, rather thinking outside the box by adapting and modifying exercise and activities to engage diverse groups.

Case studies External Link

  • From organisations producing theatre with people with a disability.
  • Case studies highlight the process, strengths and challenges of productions.
  • Summaries of common themes throughout the case studies are supplied.
  • Tips and suggestions.

Accessible Arts NSW offer a range of training for artists, and staff at arts organisations. This includes scheduled sessions in Sydney and tailor made sessions. Contact Accessible Arts NSW to see what options can be offered to ACT based organisations. Visit their website here External Link

Advocacy for Inclusion 

An organisation that provides self and systemic advocacy for people with disabilities in Canberra. The organisations teaches people self advocacy skills. For more information access their website here 

Other Useful Links

Downloadable Disability Access Symbols promote and publicise accessibility for people with disabilities.

Arts Access Australia External Link (AAA) is the peak national body for arts and disability, working to increase opportunities and access for people with disability as artists, arts-workers, participants and audiences.

The Australia Council for the Arts Artists with Disability Program External Link enables Australian artists with disability to create, develop, present, produce, exhibit and tour their work.

The ACT Office for Disability External Link provides strategic advice and practical assistance to enable people with disability to enjoy their rights as citizens of the ACT.

The National Arts and Disability Strategy External Link is a national framework for action to improve how audiences and artists with a disability can participate in the arts and cultural life of the community.