What we do

  • Finished

Public Talk: "Let's enjoy performing arts together" : Developing theater accessibility research and practices together with disabled people

Arts Council Tokyo Grant Program: Activity Report of Long Term Grant-Session 6

Since 2013, Arts Council Tokyo has been running a Long Term Grant program providing up to three years of support for long-term artistic projects. In the 6th talk session on past grant recipients, we will introduce the activities of NPO Theatre Accessibility network, which received a three-year grant starting in 2015.
With “Let’s enjoy performing arts together” as its watchword, NPO Theatre Accessibility network (TA-net) was established with the aim of creating a society in which people with disabilities can easily and comfortably go to the theater and enjoy performing arts.Visually or hearing impaired people take center stage in TA-net’s activities, which connect people who want to enjoy the performing arts, despite being unable to see or hear, with organizations offering script lending services, sign language interpreting and captioning/subtitling, and with performance organizers/ theaters. TA-net’s activities under the Long Term Grant program over three years from 2015 included making recommendations and providing equipment to organizers like venues and theater groups wishing to introduce accessibility services like sign language and audio description, as well as providing support in the form of temporary staffing and more. TA-net also supplied sign language interpreters for hearing impaired theater artists attending rehearsals, workshops, etc.
By looking back at TA-net’s activities over three years, we hope this session provides an opportunity to put our heads together with disabled people and think about the experience of theater-going for people with impaired vision and hearing; to think of conceivable ways to make theater-going accessible; and also to think how we should improve an environment for performing arts activities among people with disabilities. We look forward to the attendance of many different people including people with disabilities from not only the performing arts field but also from visual art, music and other fields; people interested in artistic activities by people with disabilities; and those with a support role in these activities.

*Details of this Activity Report session will be posted on this website at later date.


Arts Council Tokyo Grant Program: Public Talk
Activity Report of Long Term Grants-Session 6: NPO Theatre Accessibility network
(2015 selected project: 3 years)

NPO Theatre Accessibility network (TA-net)
An intermediary support organization providing theater-going support for people with hearing, visual and other disabilities under the watchword “Let’s enjoy performing arts together,” with disabled people themselves at the helm. TA-net was established in 2012 by Asako Hirokawa, actor producer with the Japanese Theatre of the Deaf, on the back of her year spent in London absorbing cutting-edge examples of arts-related accessibility services for disabled people. As well as supplying and training sign language interpreters, and providing coordination and recommendations for theater accessibility, she serves as a member of committees run by the Agency for Cultural Affairs (ACA) and the Association of Public Theaters and Halls in Japan. These committees work towards broadening opportunities for people with disabilities to appreciate theater, and developing barrier free theatre-going.


18:45 Venue opens
19:00 Introduction of Long-term Grant Program and grant-supported activities
19:05 [Part 1] Presentation by TA-net – Activity summary and self-introduction/evaluation/analysis
-The process leading to these activities: sequence of events, background, etc.
-Activity objectives
-Activity summary: overall progression over the three-year period; activities undertaken in the first, second and third years, etc.
-Outcomes and issues of activities
19:35 Break
19:45 [Part 2] Experiencing for ourselves audio guides, subtitles and stage sign language interpreting
20:05 [Part 3] Interview by program officer in charge on discoveries, changes, transitions etc. in activity processes; reactions from organizations and audiences who received theater accessibility support; issues and vision going forward; impressions of/requests for the long-term grant program
20:25 Question-and-answer session
21:00 Closing
*Please note that the program is subject to change.

Asako Hirokawa (President, NPO Theatre Accessibility network)
Eri Ishikawa (General Secretariat, NPO Theatre Accessibility network)
Yoko Kitagawa (Senior Program Officer, Theater/Performing arts Dept., Planning & Grants Division, Arts Council Tokyo)

Speaker profiles
Asako Hirokawa
Joined the Japanese Theatre of the Deaf in 1994. Graduated from Wako University in 1995. She underwent a year of training at the Graeae Theatre Company in the UK under the 29th Duskin Leadership Training program for people with disabilities from September 2009. In December 2012 Hirokawa established NPO Theatre Accessibility network (TA-net.) In 2015 she was the recipient of the 66th Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Art Encouragement Prize for New Artists for work including the TA-net symposium “What we can do now to build up a more accessible theatre system.” TA-net received the 14th Yomiuri Fukushi Bunka-sho (welfare and culture prize) in December, 2016. Hirokawa participates in nationwide awareness-raising educational activities such as NHK’s weekly sign language program for children, NHK’s program on life for the deaf and hard of hearing, Asahi Shimbun newspaper’s “People,” and Okinanawa Prefecture’s 2017 course on arts management. She was a member of a National Cultural Policy Committee-led performing arts specialist working group in 2017 (the 15th Council for Cultural Affairs, ACA), and a member of the Association of Public Theaters and Halls in Japan’s 2018 investigating committee regarding the establishment of optimum barrier-free information systems at venues like theaters, concert halls, etc. (commissioned by the ACA). She served as research committee member for the ACA-commissioned “research and practice program for the expansion of opportunities for disabled people to see theater performances,” led by the disabled people’s arts and culture international exchange project executive committee. She is a member of the 2018 committee towards the building of a platform for expression in/ enjoyment of performing arts by disabled people, run by tne Osaka Disabilities Independence Support Association. Hirokawa is also on ACA’s 2018-2019 committee of experts for the promotion of cultural and artistic activities for disabled persons.

Eri Ishikawa
Graduated in Japanese language and culture from Tokyo Seitoku University’s Faculty of Humanities in 1997. While at university she began campaigning for assistive technology support for hearing impaired students in lectures. From 2006 to 2014 she headed the Kanto hearing impaired student support center. She helps higher education institutions provide assistive technology support. Ishikawa founded NPO Theatre Accessibility network in 2012 with Asako Hirokawa, and has served as General Secretariat ever since. Since 2015 she has been Access Coordinator in charge of supplying sign language / speech-to-text support staff for arts performances. She was a trainee on the 2017 ACA Program for Stage Performers Cooperation and Exchange, a program for nurturing upcoming artists to lead the next generation. In 2017 she was a trainee on ACA’s specialist fellowship program for Japan. Since 2017 she has worked as a deafblind interpreter and caregiver.





Assistive technology support

Sign language (combined with UDTalk app speech-to-text)

How to reserve

Please contact to forum-grant@artscouncil-tokyo.jp
Including mentions of: Your name, organization, occupation, number of people attending, contact phone number, and E-mail.

Deadline of reservation
Monday, November 26 2018, 17:00

*Presentations on the day will be accompanied by sign language interpreting. Those who require a braille version of presentation materials should apply by 17:00 on Thursday, November 15.
*Your personal information will be handled as strictly confidential, and used only to operate this event and to send you information from the organizer about this event.
*We may use your e-mail address to send our newsletters.


Planning & Grants Division, Planning Department, Arts Council Tokyo
TEL: 03-6256-8431 (10:00-18:00 excluding weekends and holidays)
E-mail: forum-grant@artscouncil-tokyo.jp


Arts Council Tokyo (Kudan First Place 8F, 4-1-28, Kudankita, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo)



Organized by
Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture)