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Open Access: Accessibility As Temporary Collectively-Held Space

12 November 2021
6:00 pm
8:15 pm

Join artist and organiser Carmen Papalia for this online workshop that accompanies our current group exhibition Making Care which features his work.

Open Access: Accessibility As Temporary Collectively-Held Space – Workshop with Carmen Papalia

In 2015 Vancouver-based artist Carmen Papalia responded to the failures that he experienced as a recipient of institutional disability support services with Open Access, a conceptual framework for accessibility that moves beyond compliance-level measures with guidelines for mutual care. Consisting of 5 tenets that describe what it means to organize support in the midst of an oppressive system, Open Access mobilizes an interrogation of the conditions that restrain agency and decision making power over strengthening accessibility measures that are the result of legal and regulatory compliance. When put into practice, it problematizes the conventions of the accommodation paradigm for accessibility by encouraging participants to collectively envision a space that suits their needs, then share accountability towards that vision as they organize accessibility from the grassroots. Since first proposing it as his personal position statement on the topic of accessibility in 2015, Papalia has employed Open Access as the basis for performances, interventions and curatorial proposals at institutions across Canada, the US, UK and EU.

In this workshop about creative and justice-oriented accessibility practices, Papalia will introduce participants to the Open Access framework and to other concepts that have guided his work and advocacy over the last 10 years, including the principles of Disability Justice and the work of figures in the broader disability movement. Participants will have the opportunity to reconsider their accessibility and public engagement practices towards the beginnings of a new community agreement that centers caring relationships that are rooted in reciprocity and accountability.

This workshop is intended as a point of departure, a context where participants can determine what accessibility means when approached as a temporary, collectively-held space.

Further information and suggested reading

This workshop is for anyone, disabled, non-disabled, artists, arts workers, organizers, activists etc.

It will run for 2 hours 15 minutes with a 10-15 minute break halfway through.

Tickets are free for those that need them or by donation for those that are able to financially support ONCA’s work. If you require a free ticket and none are available, or would like to discuss your access needs, please email

Although not a requirement, Carmen suggests reading the following texts in preparation for the workshop:

Disability Justice, a Working Draft by Patty Berne

Access Intimacy by Mia Mingus

An Accessibility Manifesto for the Arts by Carmen Papalia


Carmen Papalia is a Vancouver-based non-visual social practice artist with severe chronic and episodic pain. He co-founded the Open Access Foundation for Arts & Culture. This encourages cultural organisations to develop creative and justice-oriented practices around accessibility. Carmen’s work ranges from collaborative performance to public intervention. It responds to the harms of the Medical Model of Disability, a framework that erases disability experience by reinforcing ableist concepts of normalcy.

Image credit: Photo of Carmen Papalia by Philip Lui.

Image description: close up photograph of artist Carmen Papalia cropped just below the shoulders. Carmen is side on holding a large white megaphone to his mouth, he appears to be shouting passionately into the megaphone. Carmen is wearing a brown tweed flat cap, grey pin stripped waistcoast and black shirt with a blue, yellow and red flowery pattern. In the background are several brick buildings.

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Please contact or 01273 607101 if you have specific access needs, please note the gallery is wheelchair accessible but the toilet is up five stairs. We have hearing assistive technology and our staff have Basic BSL & Deaf Awareness training. For more information about access and facilities at ONCA please click here.


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