Performance for The Complete Freedom of Truth UK. 9 male and female young dancers perform on stage, against the theatre’s black curtains. They create an intimate composition at the centre of the stage. Photo: Robert Golden

Access and Inclusion: Getting the Balance Right – How to build an inclusive and barrier-free arts educational activity.

The initial period of research for GCTO described in our previous short article, raised many questions about inclusion in communities and how informal arts education can contribute to the creation of a more cohesive and just society.

In this next stage of this GCTO process, we are going to look at a first step training module to explore the question of how to build an inclusive arts educational activity or workshop.

During the research period we interviewed in depth 14 experienced artist/ facilitators and Heads of Outreach Participation and Educational Departments in major opera companies in the UK. These conversations have helped us understand just a small proportion of the widespread informal arts educational work that takes place in England, Wales and Scotland.

People described the many challenges that they faced in this field and that much work needed to be done in order to develop programmes that reflect and respect those cultures with which we all need to engage.

Through discussions and exercises, we will examine why it is important to build a process with the participants of an informal arts programme from the beginning. It will offer tips where to go for advice and help with how to design your training, workshop or activity so that it is not an imposition of ideas but an organic process where the “beneficiaries” are the “organisers”.

By the end of the training session we hope participants will have an increased understanding of the issues of social inclusion and accessibility and some tools to incorporate into inclusive practice in their own activities.

This will be a sharing as much as a training session and learning from our participants experiences is as important to our process as delivering our own experiences.

We look forward to working with our participants and trainers in Matera in February 2019. Participate in the #GCTO Training Week!

About Opera Circus

Tina Ellen Lee, the Artistic Director of Opera Circus, one of the partner companies of GCTO, has recently been working with Voices of Culture on a Structured Dialogue process about Social Inclusion, supported by the European Commission and The Goethe Institute. Thirty five cross sector civil society organisations participated and the resulting document will be published later this year and shared widely. As a co-founder of Opera Circus, Tina has been a performer, artistic director and producer for the company since its inception. Tina is a Project Manager for Opera Circus with GCTO.

Foteini Galanopoulou, Project Assistant for GCTO for Opera Circus. Foteini’s portfolio has been built primarily through working with and supporting disabled artists in their practice or disabled-led art companies in their projects, consulting arts organisations on how to improve accessibility for their disabled audiences, artists and employees and broader project management work for UK and cross-European projects.

Find out more about Opera Circus:


“Performance for The Complete Freedom of Truth UK.”
Part of a sharing of work at Bryanston School, Dorset, UK, during the pilot TCFT programme.
Find out more:
Photographer: Robert Golden