Inclusive arts and performance


The ACT Government supports access to the arts for all Canberrans and works closely with the arts and disability sectors to increase the cultural participation of people living with a disability. A range of arts and accessibility resources are listed on the artsACT website

Social Inclusion in the Arts

Social Inclusion in the Arts: 2017 Plan outlines recent activities promoting social inclusion and accessibility in a selection of ACT arts organisations. There are several case studies listed on the artsACT website including:

Further information is available at:

Minister’s Creative Council

In November 2018, Minister for the Arts and Cultural Events, Mr Gordon Ramsay, announced 11 appointees to the inaugural Minister’s Creative Council, which advises the ACT Government on arts and cultural sector issues to inform future policy development.

Belconnen Arts Centre expansion

The expansion of the Belconnen Arts Centre is in the 2016 Parliamentary Agreement between ACT Labor and the ACT Greens. The expansion will include a flexible theatre space, a new dance and rehearsal studio, new exhibition space, and a café. Work on site commenced in December 2018 and is scheduled for completion in early 2020. 


Inclusive arts organisations, programs and events 

A number of Canberra-based arts organisations have successfully applied for Disability Inclusion Grants (DIGS) and International Day of People with Disability (I-Day Grants).

Over the years, a range of arts organisations and artists and performers with disability have often been recognised and celebrated at the Chief Minister's Inclusion Awards.   

Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres 

Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres (AGAC) received an ACT Government 2018 Disability Inclusion Grant to initiate their Disability Inclusion Planning project, to create a more inclusive and accessible arts centre, supporting resident organisations to develop their own Disability Action and Inclusion Plans. To assist in acquiring accurate information about the most important and pressing access needs of the centres, the project has formed a Disability Advisory Committee.  You can read more about the Disability Advisory Committee members on their website.

I-Day Arts Conference

AGAC also successfully applied for an I-Day grant to hold an I-Day Arts Conference in 2018. This was held at Gorman Arts Centre on Monday, 3 December 2018. The one-day conference was curated by Daniel Savage and involved performances, presentations, a workshop, panel discussion, and networking for artists and arts workers


Kulture Break

Kulture Break is a community services provider committed to the wellbeing, transformation and empowerment of the community, and of young people in particular. Kulture Break do this “by engaging people in a safe and active environment, using the performing arts and leadership development to empower and change lives” conducting dance classes, mentoring and social skilling programs. At the 2016 Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards (CMIAs), Kulture Break received the Award for Inclusion in Business or Community. Teenager James O’Hehir is Kulture Break’s “Inclusion Ambassador” and was also a finalist for Emerging Young Leader in the 2018 CMIAs.  


Warehouse Circus

At the 2017 CMIAs, Warehouse Circus received the Excellence in Innovation Award. Warehouse Circus developed an innovative inclusive participation pathway model to provide circus training to people of all abilities and are dedicated to using circus therapy to improve the quality of life for all. Their outreach programs work with Woden and Black Mountain Schools, the Bimberi Centre, and the wider community, targeting at risk youth, youth experiencing mental health issues, senior citizens, and disadvantaged families and schools. 


Rebus Theatre

Rebus Theatre is a Canberra-based, mixed-ability theatre company that uses the interactive model of Forum Theatre as a community education and training tool around social issues. At the 2018 CMIAs, Rebus Theatre received the Championing Human Rights Award and also the overall Chief Minister’s Award for Excellence for their innovative Open Doors Open Minds project, which was funded through an NDIS Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Grant. Their current project Access All Areas (also funded through an ILC grant) is a community consultation and education project designed to improve access for people with disability to health, justice and transport services in the ACT. Rebus staff member Cara Matthews received the Emerging Young Leader Award at the 2018 CMIAs. They also run inclusive drama classes at the The Hub in Phillip.


IGNITE: Alternative Arts Academy at the Belconnen Arts Centre

IGNITE: Alternative Arts Academy is an engaged, contemporary and innovative arts collective for artists with lived experience of disability, mental health issues, the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HOH). IGNITE assists in the development of artists’ aspirations and their repertoire of skills in creative practice. IGNITE aims to support and nurture the aspirations of our artists and to assist in broadening experience, skills and networks. IGNITE works to improve access and opportunities for this creative collective to engage in all areas of arts and culture, including employment, education and leadership roles.

IGNITE programs provide a variety of challenging and exciting arts development experiences for people living with disability, the d/Deaf, HOH and mental health issues. IGNITE programs are mostly free of charge and cater to all levels of skill and experience, from the beginner looking for a new interest, through to hobbyists and the professional practitioner.

This includes the Room to Move: Inclusive Dance Classes. Belconnen Arts Centre received a CMIA in 2010, 2012 and 2013 and strives to offer an environment that is accessible and engaging to all.  

Tuggeranong Arts Centre 

Tuggeranong Arts Centre has also supported a range of inclusive initiatives. Xtreme Stars is a group of young adult dancers with a disability, formed in 2015 when a group of parents decided to help young adults with disabilities realise their love of dance and movement and to provide them with the opportunity to socialise with their peers.

Supported by artsACT’s Community Outreach funding, the STILE Mentorship Program is a unique opportunity for emerging artists and community leaders from diverse and marginalised backgrounds to undertake a paid mentorship with some of Australia’s leading artists and community cultural development practitioners. For more information visit the Tuggeranong Arts Centre website.


Accessible Arts (NSW)

Accessible Arts (NSW) is the peak arts and disability organisation across New South Wales providing information, advocacy and the facilitation of excellence in arts practice. Through the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building program, Accessible Arts received an ACT Jurisdictional Based Grant over two years for community awareness and capacity building. Ruth O’Brien, local musician, creative consultant and woman with disability, has been employed as the Canberra-based Project Officer. 

Choose Art 

Choose Art is a new online directory platform designed for and by Deaf and disabled people. The website (created by Arts Access Victoria with collaborators across Australia, including Belconnen Arts Centre) aims make arts visible to NDIS participants - to make sure people with disability have choice and control, and to place information directly into the hands of people with disability. You can search for accessible arts programs or list your own events.  

Ausdance ACT 

Ausdance ACT is a long-standing not-for-profit charitable organisation providing high quality, inclusive dance programs, services and opportunities for a wide range of capacities, abilities, styles and cultures. Ausdance ACT designs and runs programs to fill needs not addressed by others, including the needs of young people with disability, especially through the Escalate mentoring program (which has included dancers with disability) and Youth Dance Festival (‘YDF’) which is not a competition and is open to all high schools and colleges.

Dancers from Black Mountain School first performed in YDF in 2005. YDF is programmed, scheduled and delivered around full inclusivity. This year, dance works of 8 out of 37 mainstream schools in YDF included participants with disability. Ausdance ACT has a draft Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) for adoption at the end of 2019. Ausdance ACT is a 2019 ACT Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards finalist.

Hands On Studio

CatholicCare's Hands On Studio is a space in which people with an NDIS plan can come for art classes that spans a three hour period. It is not an Art Therapy environment, instead each student is approached about their goals as an art maker and these goals shape what they do during class times.

Hands On Studio holds an annual exhibition at the M16 Artspace in Gallery 3, this exhibition is a huge draw in the community and attracts a large crowd every year. All sales go directly to the artist

They also organize exhibitions at other prominent Canberra galleries such as "Meet Makers" recently at Australian National Capital Artists (ANCA) in Dickson. (Read about this fascinating collaboration between artists in this RiotACT article.) 


Further information

Volunteering ACT provides an online directory of Canberra community information on My Community Directory, where you can discover over one hundred Arts and Creatives groups and organisations. These encompass crafts, visual arts and performing arts and music.  

You can also visit the Connections in the community page for details of the following stallholders from the 2019 Connect and Participate Expo: 


  • The Flamenco Centre Canberra
  • Folk Dance Canberra
  • Jumptown Swing
  • Bellyup Bellydance
  • Calisthenics ACT Inc.
  • Canberra Dance Theatre
  • Silver Soles Cloggers Inc
  • Monaro Folk Society
  • Canberra Swing Katz 

Drama and Performance

  • Canberra Repertory Society
  • Rebus Theatre
  • Warehouse Circus Inc

Arts and Crafts 

  • ACT and Region Machine Knitters Guild
  • Canberra Quilters Inc
  • The Canberra Calligraphy Society
  • Canberra Lapidary Club Inc
  • Woodcraft Guild of the ACT
  • Southern Cross Club Social Art Group

Music and Singing 

  • Canberra Harmony Chorus   
  • Canberra Brass Inc.
  • Canberra College of Piping & Drumming
  • COZMO (Capital of Australia Mandolinata Inc.)
  • Mixtape Chorus
  • Sing Australia
  • Tuggeranong Valley Band
  • Ukulele Republic of Canberra (URoC)
  • Young Music Society