Participation in cultural life is a right recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Moreover, protecting and promoting an individual's participation in culture helps to build a more inclusive, innovative and resilient society. In Luxembourg, associations and institutions are striving to make culture a tangible right accessible to all. Against this backdrop, theatres are hosting more inclusive projects, museums are becoming more accessible and the Kulturpass provides access to cultural performances for 1.50 euros.
The Kulturpass, providing access to culture to people on low incomes
Luxembourg, immersed in culture. The Grand Duchy has more than 60 museums, and theatres are spread throughout the country. Also, many municipalities have cultural centres with a multilingual programming that covers all types of performing arts. However, a large part of the population has no access to culture because of their precarious situation.
Since 2008, Cultur'All has been committed to ensuring that everyone has access to culture. The objective of the association is to raise awareness of cultural rights across society and among policy makers as well as to facilitate access to culture, in particular for people who find themselves marginalised from cultural life because of their vulnerable social or economic situation. By encouraging participation in and access to cultural life, the association promotes cultural diversity and inter-social dialogue in close cooperation with its social and cultural partners.
The creation of the Kulturpass is the result of these efforts. It enables people on low incomes living in Luxembourg, or those who have applied for international or temporary protection, to participate in Luxembourg's cultural life. This is a free and individual card, valid for two years, which provides free access to, among others, partner museums or allows to buy a ticket to a cultural event for EUR 1.50. To date, the network includes more than 100 active partners in various fields such as visual and graphic arts, music, cinema, etc.
Three questions to the managers of Cultur'All
1. The Cultur'All association was founded in 2008 and its first concrete action was to introduce the Kulturpass, which has been available since 2010. Why was this measure selected? After more than 10 years of work, what has been the overall impact?
The Kulturpass was a quick and easy means to address the most obvious obstacle, the financial barrier.
From its beginnings, as an association working with volunteers, it now employs 1.25 full-time staff. Since the project was restructured at the end of 2014, the Kulturpass network has doubled. At present, we have a hundred cultural partners and almost fifty social partners. In 2015, 1,043 people obtained a Kulturpass and today we have 4,425 active Kulturpass. The sale of Kulturpass tickets increased from 1,987 in 2015 to 4,400 in 2022 and we expect a sharper increase in 2023. We can say that we are now established on a national level and we have gained credibility abroad by organising an international symposium in our field of activity last year. Despite all of our progress, there remains much work to be done.
2. Recommendation no. 49 of the KEP 2018-2028 (Kulturentwécklungsplang – National Plan for Cultural Development) proposes to improve the dissemination and visibility of the Kulturpass. In fact, one of the objectives of KEP in the field of 'Cultural Citizenship and Accessibility' is to extend the possibilities of the Kulturpass to all the municipalities in the country. Has the recommendation been implemented? What is the current status?
We are in fact dealing with the issue of citizenship, especially cultural citizenship. The marginalisation of a part of the population from Luxembourg's cultural life is only part of the wider phenomenon of poverty and social exclusion. In the same vein, we see the Kulturpass as a lever that can help people participate in society and claim their natural rights as citizens.
The Kulturpass is only part of the answer. The other side of our work evolves around creating and maintaining links between the social and cultural fabric in order to give our beneficiaries the chance to exercise their rights to participate in cultural life and society as a whole. To return to KEP recommendation 49, we consider that, despite increasing support from the Ministry of Culture, there is still a lot of work to do. However, this issue goes beyond the scope of KEP and requires more concerted support from public authorities.
3. The Kulturpass facilitates access to culture, i.e. its consumption or participation could be considered as 'passive', even if it fulfils the wishes of the user. However, cultural rights are also a form of active participation in cultural creation, which can also be a means of social inclusion. Does Cultur'All implement related projects with the active participation of the most disadvantaged citizens? Does it work with other associations?
Our work consists of managing the continuous expansion of the Kulturpass network, raising awareness among our partners, creating ties within this network, improving the Kulturpass operating system, developing a more complete and coherent narrative by bringing the world of disability closer together, finding new solutions to develop and multiply the dissemination of information as well as identifying marginalised audiences.
We also have the basis of a cultural mediation tool box that was kindly given to us by our friends from the Article 27 association (in Belgium) and whose main objective is to strengthen people's sense of citizenship via culture. In essence, it is about giving people the right to position themselves in relation to the work, to leave a little space to allow them to express their opinion and to value their point of view. At the moment we do not have the means to implement this goal.
Museums, theatres and heritage for all
Various museums have been developing initiatives for several years aimed at fostering inclusive participation in cultural life.
The two museums of the city of Luxembourg, the Lëtzebuerg City Museum and the Villa Vauban, offer guided tours for people with special needs. All of their exhibits are accessible and they offer three types of visits:
- Guided tour in sign language (German sign language).
- Tours for visually impaired or blind people.
- Tours in easy-to-understand language.
The duration varies according to the type of tour and the needs of the participants. Reservations are required for these tours (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). In addition, all rooms in both museums are wheelchair accessible. These initiatives have received the EureWelcome Luxembourg label, which measures user-friendliness and accessibility for all. Furthermore, the Lëtzebuerg City Museum and the Villa Vauban offer discounted rates, including free entry on certain evenings, as well as for young people, students and people with disabilities.
For its part, the Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art - Mudam Luxembourg also caters for visitors with special needs with:
- An easy-to-understand and instructive German language brochure which includes all the information and offers of the museum.
- A day of discovery for visitors living with a disorder on the autism spectrum.
- Tours for the visually impaired or blind.
- Group tours with a mediator.
The entire Mudam is wheelchair-accessible. Manual wheelchairs are available to visitors on request at the reception. For certain tours, please make book in advance with the Museum's General Public Department (email: email@example.com). The Mudam also offers discounted tickets and free admission on Wednesday nights as well as for young people and students.
Luxembourg's museums have also turned to digital technology in recent years, thus helping to broaden the general public’s access to culture. As such, people are unable to travel or leave home can also enjoy the museum collections.
The Nationalmusée um Fëschmaart, museum of history and art, can be explored via a series of immersive and interactive 3D tours. The museum collections have been scanned using state-of-the-art technology and now offer a comprehensive 3D tour. In addition, virtual exhibitions of their collections are also available on their website. Admission to the permanent exhibition is free and discounted rates are also available for young people and students.
You can also discover the Dräi Eechelen Museum with its casemates and the underground galleries of the Olizy and Niedergrünewald forts, via immersive and interactive 3D tours. In this way, people with reduced mobility can visit areas which, due to the architecture of the historic sites, are not easily accessible. All exhibitions of the Dräi Eechelen Museum are free.
Castles and forts
For several years, the castle of Useldange has been providing a cultural tour for the visually impaired. The routes around the castle and inside the castle tower have been designed under the auspices of UNESCO. The tour consists of 16 stations adapted for the visually impaired, allowing them to feel, listen to and touch the history of the building.
The catalogue of the tour of the old quarters and fortifications of the City of Luxembourg - which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site - has been extended with two audio guides and a brochure for people with special needs:
- The UNESCO Tour for all on izi.travel is suitable for wheelchairs and prams. The tour was specially designed and tested by groups of people with specific needs. The guide is available in Luxembourgish, French, German, English, Dutch and Portuguese.
- The UNESCO-Tour für Alle – Leichte Sprache guide uses the same route but with easy-to-understand language and sequences filmed in sign language. This tour is only available in German.
- The UNESCO-Tour für Alle in Leichter Sprache brochure introduces visitors to the UNESCO tour in German in easy-to-understand language, using simple phrases to explain complex artefacts and events.
The Mierscher Kulturhaus has been behind many inclusive projects for the past 10 years or more. With a desire to push the boundaries even further, this cultural space has created a network of professional artists and cultural and social institutions to promote inclusion in the field of culture: Mosaik Kultur Inklusiv.
Diversity, individuality and singularity are at the heart of this project, which places a special emphasis on representation on stage. The brochure for the 2023 season is available in German: dance, workshops, readings and music await you! Several of the performances are accompanied by German sign language interpretation.
Guaranteed access to culture
In line with its policy to ensure all members of society have access to culture, the Ministry of Culture has been launching calls for projects since 2021. The aim is to help cultural institutions to make their programming accessible to people at risk of exclusion, for whom culture can be a pillar of development. This financial support also seeks to develop and strengthen the links between cultural and social actors and to train professionals in cultural institutions.
One of the latest calls for projects is dedicated to ensuring access to culture in prisons. Kultur am Prisong is a means to bring cultural projects into prisons, thereby allowing prisoners to participate in events and take a first step towards cultural inclusion.
'Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits .' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 27.1.
'Indeed only a human-centred approach to development based on mutual respect and open dialogue among cultures can lead to lasting peace.' UNESCO.