The inclusion of people with disabilities in the performing arts sector (Presentation)
Les Muses: Centre des arts de la scène
In French | Simultaneous interpretation in English and LSQ
In order for the cultural industries to be more equitable and adhere to principles of diversity and inclusion, everyone has a role to play: arts training schools, artists, arts councils, producers, broadcasters… The responsibility to make more room for people with disabilities in society falls on everyone and the cultural sector is no exception. Cindy Schwartz and Geneviève Bouchard are respectively director and coordinator of Les Muses: centre des arts de la scène, a school offering professional training in theater, dance and singing to artists living with a cognitive disability (intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, etc.). Since 2001, Les Muses has established significant ties with the artistic community and works closely with renowned theater and dance companies in Quebec and abroad. Les Muses has also created enviable relationships with casting agencies. The film and television industry has also taken an interest in the work of Les Muses and the artists trained by its program. In this paper, Cindy and Geneviève talk about their experience in accompanying disabled artists in the exercise of their profession, name the important issues experienced by these people, underline the importance of certain initiatives, and share their thoughts and possible solutions to make the cultural industries more inclusive towards people with disabilities.
Cindy Schwartz, Director
With a Master’s degree in Psychology and Education and a background as a performer and dance teacher, Cindy Schwartz is a passionate humanist as well as a skilled administrator. Her determination and natural ability to bring people together around innovative and daring projects led her to found Les Muses in 1997. Fighting with heart and conviction for the recognition, inclusion, equity and social participation of atypical artists within the artistic community, Cindy Schwartz chaired in 2011 the Table de concertation des organismes œuvrant dans le domaine culturel auprès des personnes handicapées. Her involvement and contribution to this community have been recognized more than once through various awards, including the Janine-Sutto Award (which she has won twice) as well as the prestigious À part entière award from the Office des personnes handicapées du Québec.
Geneviève Bouchard, Administrative and artistic coordinator
After completing a bachelor’s degree in literary studies, Geneviève wrote Ombilic as part of her master’s degree in theater at UQÀM. In her thesis-creation directed by Larry Tremblay, she explores the particular relationship between the body and identity within a female character. From 2007 to 2017, she was co-artistic director of Collectif [dif]FRACTION, a theatre creation and production company she co-founded with Stéphanie Pelletier. The company presented Ombilic (2009) and Terre Confite (2011) at the intimate venue of Théâtre Prospero and Jusque dans les os (2014) at MainLine Theatre as part of FRINGE. In recent years, Geneviève has turned her attention to acting by taking several training courses, and has landed a few roles in TV and film.
As part of her duties at Les Muses: centre des arts de la scène, Geneviève is called upon to represent and advocate for artists living with disabilities in various contexts. In 2014, she wrote the article “Nous aussi, on est des artistes” published in the magazine TicArtoc demanding the right and access to work in a professional cultural environment for artists living with disabilities.