EU National Institutes for Culture - EUNIC


Diverse as We Are - International Festival of Inclusive Culture
14 people are sitting around a table, having a discussion
Photo: DAWA
Project Meeting

By showcasing and discussing diversity and inclusion in arts, culture, sports, and beyond, “Diverse as We Are” – International Festival of Inclusive Culture (DAWA) brings together artists and creatives with and without disabilities from China, Europe, Asia and the world.

Disability is still an uncomfortable topic in China, often seen in a medical context of patient and treatment. Options available for people with disabilities to prosper are limited. Some independent artists with disabilities start to create works to claim more social inclusion, emphasizing the person and not the disability, asking EU partners for support and visibility. Local institutions, including the Shanghai Municipality feel the urge to enable more access to education, culture, and society.

Deafness is a cultural identity, not merely a matter of hearing loss. Sign language is a gateway to equal opportunity, not merely a language just for us.

Alice Hu, deaf artist and activist

“Diverse as We Are” – International Festival of Inclusive Culture (DAWA) is a new concept in China celebrating diversity and inclusion through rarely seen artistic productions and avantgarde cultural expressions and aims to build bridges between disability communities, local audiences and cultural institutions. DAWA believes in the power of people-to-people dialogue and considers dis-ABILITIES as a strength. The festival connects and empowers underrepresented groups of the art scene and society, calls for more access, and inclusion in cultural life through public engagements such as performance, exhibition, film, talk, and others.

Increasing accessibility to education, culture, and society

Since inclusion in Europe is more present on the socio-political agenda, DAWA aims to connect Europe and China by providing more diverse contents and encounters. DAWA can empower local artists, especially the underrepresented ones and make meaningful contribution to the civil society.

The festival takes place in Shanghai in September 2022, with accompanying events happening before and afterwards. Partnering with local art museums, theatres and festivals, DAWA aims to present a cultural programme as inclusive and accessible as possible by conducting accessibility check of venues, access supports such as sign language interpretation, audio-description, and personal assistance. At DAWA, intercultural exchange happens in performances, exhibitions, sports events, workshops, films, and public discussions involving artists and creatives with and without disabilities from Europe, China and the world.

With its accessible programme, DAWA reduces barriers and inequality of people, contributes strongly to the UN Sustainable Development Goals for Quality Education (SDG 4), Sustainable Cities and Communitites (SDG 11), Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16) and Global Partnerships (SDG 17).

We believe one of the best things about DAWA will be its legacy of leaving impact for cultural organizations and its staff to have more awareness for the people with disabilities and keep showing care and support in the long run.

Li Jiyuan and Lu Xiangdong, founders of beYoureyeS

During Step 2 of the process, the team has further developed DAWA from a project idea into a concrete plan that includes expanding European and local partners network, approaching the EUNIC cluster in Beijing, continuing with programme ideas research, forming an advisory board, calling for online and in person programming/planning meetings, producing a key visual design draft, reaching out to potential sponsors, and working on communication strategies.

  • Diversity
  • European Spaces of Culture
  • Festival