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Romanska Leading Project on Digital Accessibility in Theatre

Magda Romanska head shot
Professor Magda Romanska

Performing Arts Professor Magda Romanska is coordinating the Digital Access Research Project (DARP), which aims to help law- and policymakers and arts organizations develop guidelines to improve accessibility of the performing arts.

The DARP is a collaboration between Harvard University’s metaLAB, where Romanska is a principal investigator, and Berkman Klein Center for the Internet and Society, where she is a faculty associate.

The project seeks to codify streaming of performances as part of the disability laws in the U.S. and internationally. The group, which includes experts in disability law, copyright law, digital technology, and performing arts management, is working to develop guidelines that balance artistic and institutional copyrights with the digital accessibility needs of those who would benefit from virtual performances.

“During the pandemic, many theatres either live-streamed their shows or made older shows available online, making performing arts suddenly available to broader, previously underserved audiences, including the disabled, elders, the clinically vulnerable, the socially and economically excluded, and the geographically distant,” according to the metaLAB. “As a result of this increased availability, formerly excluded participants came to see the provision of online performing arts as an essential accessibility feature.”

According to the metLAB, American Theatre, which had earlier called for the codification of performing arts accessibility, published a survey of managing and artistic directors in November 2021 that found that digital offerings (pre-recorded in-person, pre-recorded virtual, and live virtual) “failed to deliver at the box office,” in part due to financial pressure from streaming copyright laws.

Read more about the DARP at metaLAB.


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