Arts & Access
About Arts & Access
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.
- 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.
We 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.
OUR MISSION CONTINUES:
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…
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!
EXPERIENCE ARTS & ACCESS
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.
RED, WHITE & BLUE
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.
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.
Promote Your Accessible Event
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:
The Lehigh Valley Arts Council reserves the right to only include event submissions that are in line with the mission of Arts & Access.
Greater Inclusion Grant OPPORTUNITY
The Lehigh Valley Arts Council offers 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:
- A matching grant up to $500 to contract an artist with a disability to perform, exhibit, design or produce a public art event.
- 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 Greater Inclusion Grant is designed to help fund a new initiative that meets the following criteria:
- The event must occur in the predetermined time-frame (currently this is being determined); only one application per event is permitted.
- One application per calendar 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.