The Open Road is an Arts Council England National Activities project, led by the New Carnival Company (NCC) from the Isle of Wight. NCC works with other national carnival organisations and universities with Event Management courses to try to identify and remove barriers to participation by disabled people in carnival.
The often-misunderstood Social Model of Disability is at the heart of the project. It has been developed by disabled people to challenge the traditional Medical Model, which is based on an assumption that disability is something within the individual – it is something that a person “has”.
The Social Model, by contrast, says that people are disabled by barriers in society. Those barriers can be physical, such as buildings not having accessible toilets, or they can be caused by people’s attitudes to difference – for example, assuming disabled people can’t do certain things.
The NCC, Artshape, Callalloo Carnival Arts, EMCCAN and City Arts Nottingham have been working with disabled artists and carnival practitioners to identify barriers that are particularly common within the carnival sector. Through collaboration and co-operation, the project collaborators will present some outcomes, suggestions and practical tips to enable wider access and inclusion.