In 2009, the United Nations ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is the first text with legal character that not only grants people with disabilities creative potential, but also the right to develop it.
At the federal level, in 1981 (the International Year of Disabled People) the Office of the Federal Government Commissioner for Matters Relating to Persons with Disabilities was established as the central contact for the Federal Government in all matters affecting people with disabilities and is assigned to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
The umbrella organisation for representing the interests of artists with impairments in the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) was founded in 1989 with the EUCREA Association for Art and Disabilities. It is committed to more diversity in the arts and culture area, develops model projects that should make visible how inclusion can take place in the art and culture business, sensitises artists, cultural institutions, politics and administration for the potential of artists with impairments, encourages cooperation and works on the further development of training opportunities and employment fields.
Since 2015, the BKM has been promoting the Network for Culture and Inclusion at the Remscheid Academy as a dialogue and specialist forum. The network enables the exchange of experiences and approaches from theory and practice, science and research, associations and politics. In 2018, the funding principles for the Placement and Integration programme were amended to support new strategic and methodological approaches in the area of inclusion as well as the transfer of successful projects to other institutions and sectors. In institutions funded by the BKM on a permanent basis, donations are subject to the requirement that people with disabilities should also be able to participate. The BKM also funded the model project Art and Inclusion of the EUCREA Association for Art and Disabilities. The aim was to improve the work and training situation of artists with disabilities and their integration into the cultural scene. The CONNECT – Art in Process project, funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, is based on the ARTplus programme and is intended to transfer the model developed there to other cultural institutions. In the film sector, funding by the BKM is tied to the production of an accessible version. The Federal Film Board (Filmförderungsanstalt FFA) has also set up a round table, at which representatives of associations of people with disabilities define new standards for accessible cinemas with cinema operators, distributors and technology companies.
“Too often, however, artists and cultural audiences with disabilities are still left out. A lot has happened here in recent years, e.g. as far as accessibility in large museums and inclusive art education is concerned – but not enough. There is not only a lack of accessible cultural sites, but also of inclusive cultural and media offers, e.g. literature in simple or easy language. People with disabilities are still strongly underrepresented in the cultural sector as actors. In training and at work, the disability is often seen first, not the potential of the applicants.” This is the view of the organisation Aktion Mensch, as published in the dossier Inclusion in Culture and Media.