Accessibility grants awarded

Eight Twin Cities arts organizations were awarded ADA Access Improvement Grants by VSA Minnesota in February 2016. The nonprofits will use their grants, totaling $98,895, to make their arts programs more accessible to people with disabilities. Since 2010, 107 projects by 62 different organizations have been funded, totaling $1,243,039.

A new series of grant applications were received by the May 6, 2016, deadline, and will be reviewed by a panel on June 2. About $100,000 is available to be awarded awarded before the end of June.

VSA Minnesota has administered the ADA Access Improvement Grant program since 2010 for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC). Funds come from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008. The purpose is to enable nonprofit arts organizations in the seven-county Twin Cities area to improve their programs, projects, equipment, or facilities in ways that have the potential for significant or long-term impact in involving more people with disabilities as participants or patrons in arts programs.

Funded organizations, their cities, grant amounts and summaries follow:

Alive and Kickin’, Minneapolis, 15,000
Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis, 15,000
History Theatre, St. Paul, 15,000
Southern Theater, Minneapolis, 15,000
Circus Juventas, St. Paul, 13,500
20% Theatre Company Twin Cities, Minneapolis, 11,000
EDIT The World, Minneapolis, 7,500
Kairos Alive!, Minneapolis, 6,895

Alive & Kickin’ will provide a unique senior citizen musical theatre experience for people with disabilities by providing tickets and ADA accessible transportation. Additionally, it will create a similar musical program specifically for persons of disabilities while partnering with HPWC partners with a goal of bringing 300 individuals with disabilities to the performance in June 2016 as well as +100 people participating in a monthly musical program designed to educate and inspire.

The Cedar Cultural Center will build (has now built!) a designated accessible single unit restroom to accommodate audience members with disabilities.

History Theatre will enhance access services for patrons including bariatric seating, accessible seating (moveable), headsets and microphones for the hearing enhancement system. Funds will also support trainers to work with teaching artists and staff members to teach advanced practices for working with students dealing with mental illness. New knowledge and skills will enhance the theatre’s successful residency program partnership with Vail Place, a Minnesota mental health resource in the clubhouse model.

The Southern Theater seeks to fast-track accessibility for people with disabilities in its 100+-year-old building, both crafting its long-term plan and making short-term improvements in the meantime. This includes improvements to the front door, assistive listening device equipment and resources for the artists in its exhibition season, and crafting the schematic for its capital campaign, which includes improvements to the building for full ADA accessibility.

Circus Juventas will build special equipment for its Out of the Chair program, and underwrite an eight-week class for six individuals to test that equipment.

20% Theatre Company Twin Cities will improve accessibility for its ASL-using audience and create an ongoing, more integrated approach to interpreting theatre by engaging four interpreters (2 deaf and 2 hearing interpreters) for every production, and involving those interpreters throughout the creative process.

EDIT the World will collaborate with The Arc Greater Twin Cities to support young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their siblings to share their unique stories with photography, visual arts and an art gallery.

Kairos Alive! will upgrade its communication technology – higher quality wireless microphone systems for better amplification, still cameras and photo printers to reinforce artistic experiences – and expand its accessible musical instruments with new hand drums to make its national award-winning arts engagement programs more accessible to people of all ages with physical and cognitive disabilities.

GRANT REVIEW PANELISTS — persons active in the metro arts and disability communities — read, discussed and scored the applications; their recommendations were approved by VSA Minnesota’s board of directors. They included:
Asher Edes, Loft Literary Center house manager, Hennepin county;
Mark Hughes, Disability Viewpoints host, Ramsey county;
Jo Lum, ASL Blend development director, Ramsey county;
Adrienne Mason, disability advocate, VSA MN board, past Goodwill, MCIL, Ramsey county;
Karon Sherarts, arts management consultant, past VSA Board, Hennepin county;
Cindy Tarshish, ADA Minnesota director, Hennepin county;
Ross Willits, arts management consultant, Ramsey county.

After the spring 2016 application round, the next opportunity will be late this year or early 2017. Grants up to $15,000 are available. For details or to receive word of the next deadlines, contact VSA Minnesota at 612-332-3888, or email Copies of the most recent guidelines and application are online at ADA Improvement Grants.

Comments (0) • Posted in Announcements, News by Jon Skaalen on February 25, 2016.

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