Champions of Inclusion, a cultural accessibility trade fair and a performance by celebrated comedian Josh Blue, will take place at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts on July 12, 2018 from 1:00 to 4:30 PM.

Champions honors twelve organizations who have advanced greater inclusion in the arts and welcomes both arts and social service administrators, plus individuals with disabilities and their families for an afternoon of learning and laughter.

Event Schedule:

This multifaceted trade fair will kick off the celebration with presentations on best practices and sharing strategies for success. Special guest Street Thoma, the former Manager of Accessible Programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will tell his story about developing an accessibility program at one of largest art museums in the country.

At 3:30 pm, Josh Blue’s comedy act will begin, followed by a dessert reception to cap off the day. As an added treat, visitors will enjoy musical performances and artwork on exhibit by local artists and the opportunity to mingle with friends and colleagues.

  • 1:00pm – Welcome
  • 1:10pm – Trade Fair begins
  • 1:40pm – Panel Discussion — Building Partnerships: Sharing Strategies for Success
    • Jess Bien, Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance (moderator)
    • Rita Lang, Center for Vision Loss
    • Jill Arington, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
    • Kim Resh, Mikayla’s Voice
  • 2:40pm – Presentation — Best Practices: How to Develop an Accessibility Program
    • Street Thoma, former Manager of Accessible Programs at Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • 3:05pm – Guests can begin seating in theatre
  • 3:30pm – Josh Blue takes the stage
  • 4:10pm – Dessert reception

Twelve Champions of Inclusion

The trade fair will feature six cultural organizations and six human service agencies, who will provide the public with information on the various programs they support, including sensory-friendly performances for children with autism; audio-described, open-captioned and ASL-interpreted theatrical performances for people with vision and hearing loss; lectures, poetry readings, visual art classes, and gallery and museum exhibitions.

The vendors include the following arts groups and agencies:

  • Act One, DeSales University
  • ARCH of Lehigh Valley
  • The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties
  • The Art Establishment
  • Café The Lodge
  • Center for Vision Loss
  • Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network
  • Lehigh University Art Galleries
  • Mikayla’s Voice
  • Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre
  • PA Shakespeare Festival.
  • Service providers who do ASL, audio description and open captioning will also be available to answer questions.

Champions Presenters

Street Thoma, former Manager of Accessible Programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Much of Street Thoma’s career has focused on creative ways to help people with sensory, intellectual, and physical impairments participate in the visual arts. A sculptor and multi-media artist trained at The Maryland Institute, College of Art, he built scale models for Baltimore-based international architectural firm RTKL Inc. He, in collaboration with a blind colleague, created a touch-based, 3-D mapping system that aids blind, visually impaired, and sighted people to navigate large buildings (commissions include the Library of Congress, National Library for the Blind). Thoma then developed a method to communicate paintings in museums through discussion and touch, allowing people who are blind or visually impaired to share the experience with sighted friends and family. Museums from the Getty to the Philadelphia Museum of Art commissioned his interpretations.

In the late 1990’s, he joined the staff of the Philadelphia Museum of Art first as ADA Coordinator and then as Manager of Accessible Programs. Along with sensitivity training and a range of other activities, he oversaw new art history/art making programs for veterans, rehabilitation patients, and people who are homeless. In 2016 he retired to return to his studio practice.

Josh Blue

Josh Blue, our honored guest, is an acclaimed comedian who uses his own affliction with cerebral palsy as part of his routine. He is known for his ability to improvise and encourage his audience to overcome preconceived notions about people who are labeled as “disabled.” Blue was the grand prize winner at the Las Vegas Comedy Festival, has appeared on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” and is a favorite on the college comedy circuit.

More about Josh Blue

Join Us!

Champions of Inclusion
July 12, 2018
1:00pm to 4:30pm
Trade Fair begins at 1:00pm (free admission), Josh Blue comedy performance begins at 3:30pm (ticketed event)
Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts
321 E 3rd St, Bethlehem

Tickets & Admission

Admission to the trade fair is FREE to the public; however, Josh Blue’s performance is a separate and ticketed event. All tickets must be secured in advance.

Members of the Lehigh Valley Arts Council and the Disability Friendly Community attend for free and can reserve their tickets by emailing or calling the office at 610-437-5915, or by registering through Eventbrite. Nonmembers pay $20 and can purchase tickets through Etix.

Member RSVP

Join the Lehigh Valley Arts Council as a member here, or check your membership status by calling 610-437-5915.

Purchase Nonmember Tickets

with generous support by

Beall Fowler
Sylvia Perkins
Embassy Bank
Century Fund