Arts & Access

About Arts & Access

The Lehigh Valley Arts Council is committed to ensuring Arts & Access always and expanding cultural access to all people.arts & access logo

Arts & Access was initially designed as a yearlong celebration (July 2015-June 2016) of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act through the lens of the arts. During the inaugural year, July 2015 – June 2016, both the attendance and the number of disability-friendly events exceeded goals by 25%–demonstrating a strong need to expand services and a willingness to participate.

Thirty cultural organizations teamed up with social service agencies to present more than fifty disability-friendly events, including:

  • sensory-friendly performances for children with autism;
  • dance classes for Parkinson’s patients and their caregivers;
  • audio-described, open-captioned and ASL-interpreted theatrical performances;
  • various lectures, exhibitions, poetry readings, film screenings, and public meetings.

As a result, 790 people with disabilities either attended or performed at these events, accompanied by nearly 750 family members and friends.

Watch videos from select events

LVArts-RedWhiteBlue -0769We applaud our accomplishments throughout the past year but we also recognize a significant need to build more awareness about the challenges and barriers that still exist for people with disabilities to participate in cultural events. The Arts & Access program will continue to encourage cultural nonprofits to expand cultural access through grant incentives, marketing, and professional development support.

to engage all citizens in the Lehigh Valley, intentionally securing the participation of all abilities, regardless of physical, sensory, or cognitive limitation, both as audience members and /or providers in the dance, theatrical, musical, visual, literary or media arts.

A remarkable year…
The Miracle Cheerleaders
“Pledge! On!” The Miracle Movers cheer for pledging to support access for all.


Arts & Access debuted on July 24, 2015, launching a yearlong celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act through the lens of the arts. The Launch Party was held at Good Shepherd’s Health & Technology Center, and in attendance were more than 150 Proud Celebrants and community representatives, all excited and inspired to begin to open their doors wider to people of all abilities!

View video footage of the Launch Party

Read about the event on our Blog

Anne image adjusted A&A Storytelling Banana 1-26-2016-9
Storyteller Anne B. Thomas delights audience members with uplifting tales of overcoming obstacles in her life.


Midway through the celebratory year, we invited our Proud Celebrants for a gathering at the Banana Factory in South Bethlehem. Despite a record-breaking snowfall, nearly 60 guests enjoyed an evening of performances by storyteller Anne B. Thomas and the Lehigh Valley’s chamber music ensemble, SATORI. Audience members took part in audio description and open captioning, and explored the newest technology used in wheelchair design. The event was successful in allowing everyone to experience the challenges that others face first-hand, and guests left with the powerful understanding of what inclusion really means. It was an inspirational mid-winter event that gave the yearlong celebration an energizing boost for the remaining six months.

Read about the Experience event on our Blog

LVArts-RedWhiteBlue -1699
Josh Blue performed a hilarious set of comedy, as well as a personal Q&A session that engaged the audience.


Our final celebration was a night of laughter and fellowship, looking at our successes throughout the year with pride, and looking forward to adopting Arts & Access as a permanent program. Over 200 guests enjoyed a memorable performance by comedian Josh Blue, a disability advocate who breaks down stereotypes of living with Cerebral Palsy. The event at the Williams Center at Lafayette College reflected the power of bringing people together to change lives.

Accessibility events

Browse this calendar for accessible performances, film screenings, exhibitions, lectures, and public meetings scheduled in the Lehigh Valley. You will also find events that feature the stories of individuals living with a disability. The accommodations you require or the topic of interest are represented by the icons.

July 2017
  • Hair – AD & OC Performance
26 27 28
  • Evita – Audio Described Performance
29 30 1
  • Special Needs Art Classes
2 3 4 5 6 7
  • Artist in Recovery – Monthly Art Exhibits
  • Wild – Sensory Friendly Performance
  • Special Needs Art Classes
9 10 11 12 13
  • Wild – Sensory Friendly Performance
  • Art: The Universal Language (Art Contest)
  • Special Needs Art Classes
16 17 18 19 20
  • Wild – AD Performance
  • “See What You Feel” – A Wheels of Friendship Artist Exhibit
21 22
  • Special Needs Art Classes
  • My Fair Lady – AD & OC Performance
24 25 26 27 28 29
  • The Ice Princess – AD & ASL Performance
  • Special Needs Art Classes
  • The Three Musketeers – AD Performance
30 31 1 2 3 4
  • Artist in Recovery – Monthly Art Exhibits
  • Special Needs Art Classes

Events on July 8, 2017

2 event dates found
    Jul 08
    Wild - Sensory Friendly Performance
    Studio Theatre
    Presented by Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance

    Atlas Circus Company
    Written by Noah Dach
    Directed by Noah Dach & Christopher Scheer

    Experience the magic of this spectacular modern circus production, created by Atlas Circus Company! When a young boy runs away on an adventure through the unknown, he meets a whole host of unusual characters — and he learns what love, family, and home are all about.

    Featuring aerial acrobatics, clowning, juggling, dance, and a touch of magic, Wild is great for kids and adults alike. Don’t miss SMT’s first foray into the exciting world of modern circus theatre.

    Recommended for ages 4 through adult. Cast members will be available after daytime performances to meet the audience members, sign autographs, and answer questions.

    FREE Adventure Workshops!

    Stay after the show for a FREE 45-minute circus-themed Adventure Workshop! Join the cast to explore themes of the show through movement and storytelling — and learn circus skills! Daytime workshops are recommended for ages 4-12.

    Workshops following 6:30 performances are all-ages Circus Workshops, designed to give you a taste of circus performance skills, including juggling, clowning, and acrobatics.

    Group sizes are limited. Advance registration is recommended. Please register online or by calling 484-664-3333. Please be sure to register for the workshop following the show you plan to attend.

    If you have any questions about the Adventure Workshops, please email the Workshop team at

    Relaxed (Sensory Friendly) Performances

    Sponsored by ARCH of Lehigh Valley (Autism Resource Community Hub)
    Relaxed Performance are designed for patrons with Autism Spectrum Disorders and sensory processing challenges. Lighting and sound will be adapted to minimize sensory impact; patrons will have easy access to the lobby during the performance; and concessions will be available during the show. Patrons are welcome to bring sensory tools, cushions, and quiet manipulatives for use during the performance. Visual guides will be available for download by July 1. These performances are open to the public, but group outings are not available during these performances, except for groups who specifically wish to attend a Relaxed Performance.

    More Info
    Sensory Friendly
    Jul 08
    Special Needs Art Classes
    Kids / Teens
    Workshops / Classes
    1:30pm – 3:30pm
    The Art Establishment
    Presented by The Art Establishment

    Art classes specially designed for kids and young adults with special needs. Classes are run by Stacey Siran, an educator with the Allentown School District. The students typically work on two projects each week. The projects vary from painting, to collaging to crafting, and many other creative projects. Very hands-on and fun! The classes are designed to help the students learn about shapes, depth, color and more. Some projects feature sensory activities. Lots of camaraderie and fun! If your child need adaptive art equipment, please let us know!

    More Info
    Cognitive Health
    Sensory Friendly

Promote Your Accessible Event

Unite with us in opening the door wider and improving access for all

The Arts & Access celebration launched on July 26, 2015, and the Lehigh Valley Arts Council is committed to expanding cultural access by providing marketing support, professional development and incentive grants. Cultural groups are invited to participate by producing or presenting one of the following events:

  • A performance, screening, reading, or exhibition of work created and/or performed by artist(s) with a disability
  • An open captioned (OC) and/or an audio described (AD) performance or exhibition
  • An American Sign Language (ASL) performance or event
  • A performance or exhibition of work presented in a sensory-friendly environment for people with autism

Now is the time to embrace the value of the arts as a catalyst for change. By becoming more accessible, the cultural community reaps the benefits of new partnerships, new audiences, and a new relevance to the community we serve.

Compete the form to submit your event to be included in our Arts & Access calendar listings:

Online Submission Form

PDF Submission Form

The Lehigh Valley Arts Council reserves the right to only include event submissions that are in line with the mission of Arts & Access.

2017 Greater Inclusion Grant OPPORTUNITY

The Lehigh Valley Arts Council is offering a limited number of small matching grants to cultural organizations to support them in their efforts to produce or present a cultural event for the Arts & Access Always program and build their cultural accessibility program. For funding support, cultural nonprofits may apply to ONE of the following:

  1. A matching grant up to $500 to contract an artist with a disability to perform, exhibit, design or produce a public art event.
  2. A matching grant of up to $300 to accommodate an otherwise underserved segment of the community with disabilities, including but not limited to, individuals with hearing and visual loss, autism, mental health illness, or physical limitations.

The 2017 Greater Inclusion Grant is designed to help fund a new initiative that meets the following criteria:

  • The event must occur in the time-frame of September 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017; only one application per event is permitted.
  • One application per year.
  • Applications must commit to providing customer service training to box office staff and volunteers (local agencies offer this training free-of-charge).
  • The event should reflect the Arts & Access mission and goals.
  • The award recipient is required to submit an evaluation of the event, including number of attendees with disabilities, plus families and friends.

Submission deadline for the Greater Inclusion Grant application is July 31, 2017. Please mail the form or email it to

Download 2017 Greater Inclusion Matching Grant Application