Accessibility Advisory Committees: What Works and What Doesn’t

How do cultural organizations learn if their plans to be inclusive and accessible are actually what the disability community needs? What makes an Access Advisory Committee successful? What makes it worth the time of the arts or cultural organization’s “experts”? What pitfalls should be avoided or ideas replicated? A small group of people sit on chairs in a circle.

Four panelists who have worked with Access Advisory Committees will address this issue on Thursday, March 15 from 3:30 to 5:00 PM at the Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St. in Minneapolis.

Sponsored by the Minnesota Access Alliance, the event is free. Open Captioning will be provided by Paradigm Reporting & Captioning. Preregistration is requested at EventBrite.

Presenters, moderated by Maren Levad of the Minnesota Historical Society, are:
Stephanie Cunningham, co-founder of the Lighthouse Group Consulting (Plymouth), which specializes in disability awareness, training, customer service and public speaking. Stephanie is an educator, advocate, woman living with a disability and a part-time visual artist. She is a past VSA Minnesota board member.
Kaitlyn Mielke, an outreach specialist at ThinkSelf Minnesota Deaf Adult Education & Advocacy (St. Paul), where she recruits and coordinates volunteers, manages social media profiles, and creates collaborations within the community. She often works as a Sign Master collaborating with ASL interpreting teams for touring Broadway musicals. She is a past VSA Minnesota intern.
Jenea Rewertz-Targui, manager of Community Programs and Access Initiatives at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts (St. Paul). She works collaboratively with community leaders to develop high quality experiences that cross genres and involve participants of all ages and abilities. An artist and arts educator, she helms the Ordway’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, is an MNAA steering committee member and a past VSA Minnesota staff member.
Jessica Ryan, manager of Community Engagement for the Minnesota Orchestra (Minneapolis), previously helped the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra create and implement the symphony’s first accessibility initiative and first sensory-friendly orchestra concert in the nation. Here she has also helped grow the orchestra’s sensory-friendly series. She is an MNAA steering committee member.

Audience: This presentation will be of most interest to people in arts and cultural organizations who may want to form an Access Advisory Committee or learn how to make their work most effective. Access staff are encouraged to invite a colleague from another department to introduce the idea of access across the organization.

Parking is available in a ramp across from the Guthrie, and at other nearby lots or meters. If you need additional accommodations such as ASL interpretation to make this program accessible for you, contact Maren Levad, 651-259-3480,

Funding for this event is provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Minnesota Historical Society.

The Minnesota Access Alliance (MNAA) was formed in 2016 by cultural accessibility administrators whose mission is to “raise the bar for accessibility across the culture and arts sectors.” Join its Facebook group, or contact:
Minnesota Access Alliance:
Current co-chairs:
Emma Allen, 612 626 1897,
Maren Levad, 651-259-3480,
Natalie Kennedy, 651-215-1617,
Claire Ross, Minnesota, Zoo, 952-431-9364,
Jon Skaalen, VSA Minnesota, 612-332-3888,
Steering committee members represent the Bell Museum & Planetarium, Children’s Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, Interact Center, Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota State Arts Board, Minnesota Zoo, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, VSA Minnesota.

Comments (0) • Posted in Announcements, Artists with Disabilities, News by Jon Skaalen on February 23, 2018.

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