Proud to welcome everyone to CultureDale

The power of culture to bring people together and be themselves is being celebrated this Disability Pride Month.

Every July, national Disability Pride Month raises awareness of disabilities, starts positive conversations, celebrates the diversity of the disabled community and highlights the challenges disabled people still face to be treated equally.

Calderdale Council is committed to ensuring everyone can live their largest life in the borough, and be able to access and enjoy all that it has to offer.

The Year of Culture 2024 (CultureDale(external link)) is no exception. The Council and event / activity organisers are working hard to make sure everyone can take part in the 12-month programme celebrating Calderdale’s 50th birthday.

In partnership with Visits Unlimited (a Yorkshire-based social enterprise passionate about creating a barrier-free world for everyone), the Council is holding monthly ‘Cup of Culture’ sessions, bringing people with disabilities together to shape and get involved in CultureDale.

The informal sessions are held across the borough and are open to anyone with a disability, their families and carers. CultureDale team members and key event organisers go along to hear the disabled community’s views over a cuppa, learn how to make events more accessible, and provide ‘taster’ sessions such as arts and crafts to get people involved. 

The next Cup of Culture gathering is on Thursday 19 September (there is no August session due to the summer holidays) at the Victoria Theatre, Halifax, 11am to 2pm.

As a result of Cup of Culture, more people from the disabled community are taking part in events and creative projects that they might otherwise have missed.

Paul, a regular Cup of Culture attendee, said:

“It’s making people all feel equal to each other and involved. I come to the Cup of Culture events because they make me feel accepted. Having multiple conditions and being neurodivergent, people don’t quite see what goes on in your head, whereas when I come down [to Cup of Culture] I can be the real me.”

Chloe, who also takes part in Cup of Culture, added:

“Events like this are important to me because they help people who may be carrying out further events become more inclusive, become more aware of some of the barriers we face. As the Year of Culture is progressing, I’m finding more and more accessible things to do. I enjoy being here and sharing my experiences.”

Paul and Chloe feature in a new film by Calderdale Council to showcase the inspirational Cup of Culture gatherings. Watch the short film here: link)

Feedback from Cup of Culture attendees also inspired the CultureDale Access Champion volunteering role. There are now 12 volunteers in this role, providing a warm welcome and support for disabled people and their families and carers at large events. They are a point of contact for people arriving at events and help by sharing event schedules and information, and directing people to quiet spaces or changing spaces.

Disabled people from the Cup of Culture sessions train the volunteers on different aspects of disability and how best to support event visitors. They are hoping to roll out this training to other organisations in the future, as a legacy of CultureDale.

To become a CultureDale Access Champion or to take part in another volunteering role, visit link)

Cllr Danielle Durrans, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Services and Communities, said:

“Calderdale’s 50th birthday is a year-long celebration we should all have an opportunity to take part in. This year for Disability Pride, we are celebrating and recognising the value that all our residents bring to the borough.

“The Cup of Culture events have been a great success. I myself have attended with my daughter when possible. The opportunity to take part in some of the arranged crafts, and also in the conversations with those delivering events throughout CultureDale, is valuable.

“I hope these conversations and relationships are the start of an ongoing improvement for those with disabilities to be able to access culture and feel a valued part of our borough.

“Being invited is important, but being able to take part when you arrive is something we should all be ensuring can be achieved.”

Katie Clarke, Director of Visits Unlimited, added:

“We have been delighted to partner with CultureDale to run a series of cultural meet ups for local disabled people and family carers. All sessions have been held in accessible venues.

“We have developed a successful model with locally commissioned art groups.  Organisations have delivered activities and we have provided a safe space for disabled people to feed back their suggestions on access and inclusion, and ways to offer a warm welcome to all people.

“Disabled people have taken up activities that otherwise they would not have felt comfortable doing, or even known about. Organisations have learned directly from disabled people on becoming more inclusive and disability aware.”

In support of the Vision 2024 for Calderdale, the Council wants kindness to thrive in all parts of the borough, and everyone’s voices to be heard. Calderdale reached its 50th anniversary on 1 April 2024. This is the ultimate year for the Vision 2024 for Calderdale. Find out more about it here:

The Year of Culture (CultureDale) programme features locally-created events, festivals, exhibitions, performances and initiatives for everyone to enjoy from April 2024 to April 2025. It is funded by Calderdale Council, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Be inspired: link)

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