Exploring the Deaf Economy at the Clin d’Oeil Festival

For over 20 years, the Clin d’Oeil festival has been a big part of the deaf community. It’s more than just fun and entertainment. Behind the scenes, a busy and lively deaf economy is at work, showing that an economy based on deaf customers is possible.

The festival, now in its 11th edition, gathers many businesses from around the world. These businesses benefit from and contribute to the unique economic system here. With over 70 stands, the festival is a busy marketplace where being seen and networking are important.

One seller, who has been selling DVDs at the festival for five years, shares how successful they are, especially with French customers. The money made here funds new projects, showing a cycle of reinvestment in the deaf economy. A Japanese tattoo artist talks about bringing international experiences back home to help deaf tattoo artists in Japan.

Booksellers also do well, not just in sales, but in promoting deaf culture and history. The festival is more than just a business event; it’s a place for learning and cultural pride. One vendor says, “Economy means more than money; it includes knowledge, network, and identity growth.”

David De Keyser, the festival’s founder, explains the financial support behind this community. The festival mostly relies on the deaf community for funding, with government help being less than 10%. This shows the community’s dedication and strength.

The festival’s model goes beyond business. It includes partnerships with various companies, from deaf-led businesses to those specializing in accessibility. The goal is to create a supportive network where businesses and services meet the needs of the deaf community.

Keeping the festival affordable and accessible is key. Despite differences in wealth between countries, efforts are made to keep prices low to ensure many people can attend. Sponsorships and more visitors are strategies used to maintain this balance.

International growth is also a theme, as seen with Sorenson, a technology company from the United States. By joining the festival, Sorenson hopes to become more known in Europe and offer more jobs for the deaf community.

Theatre is another important part of the festival. Spanish actress and director Angela Ibañez Castaño highlights the need for networking and professional growth, which often means working with the hearing world. This shows the economic and professional challenges faced by deaf artists, especially in countries with fewer deaf-led companies.

In conclusion, the Clin d’Oeil festival is a small version of the larger deaf economy, showing both its challenges and successes. The festival provides a platform for business, cultural exchange, professional growth, and community strength. As the festival grows, it remains a testament to the creativity and resilience of the deaf community. We will look later into creating safer spaces within this ecosystem. Stay tuned.