Four Metro Arts Groups Receive Accessibility Grants

Four Twin Cities arts organizations have been awarded ADA Access Improvement Grants by VSA Minnesota. The nonprofits will use their grants, totaling $40,744, to make their arts programs more accessible to people with disabilities. Since 2010, 130 projects by 67 different organizations have been funded, totaling $1,508,744.

VSA Minnesota has administered the ADA Access Improvement Grant program since 2010 for the Metro 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 projects are (* = short-term impact guidelines, smaller grant amount available):

* Mixed Precipitation, St. Paul — $3,244
Mixed Precipitation will improve accessibility and build relationships with the Deaf community through outreach by a Deaf ASL coordinator, evaluation by a reinvigorated access advisory panel, and services by a team of Deaf and hearing interpreters.

* Artability, St. Paul — $7,500
Artability encourages mental health through visual and written artistic expression, providing workshops free of charge to clients of People Incorporated and members of the public with mental illness. The program features the annual Artability Show & Sale, where artists with mental illness exhibit and sell visual pieces and an anthology of written works.

Minnesota Fringe, Minneapolis — $15,000
Fringe will continue to provide ASL and audio-description services for dozens of performances during the annual Minnesota Fringe Festival; introduce a new Family Fringe establishing an exciting benchmark of 100% of shows serviced with interpretive services; and investigate new initiatives to improve access including transit assistance for patrons with visual impairments, and offering Relaxed Performance opportunities accommodating individuals on the Autism spectrum and others.

Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul — $15,000
The Minnesota Museum of American Art is embarking on an extensive expansion of its facility, opening Phase One in fall 2018, and Phase Two in 2019. This project will increase its ability to make the M accessible to all Minnesotans, and build staff knowledge and capacity to continue to make improvements. The project will pilot an accessibility plan with the opening of Phase One, evaluate and revise for scaling up for Phase Two.

Applications were read, discussed and scored by a panel of persons active in arts and disability communities; VSA Minnesota’s board approved the panel’s recommendations. Panelists included:
Scott Artley — Executive Artistic Director, Patrick’s Cabaret
David Cummer — poet, past film festival access consultant
Julie Guidry — Co-Founder & Executive Director, Upstream Arts
Maren Levad — Museum Access Specialist, Minnesota Historical Society
Claire Ross — Community Relations Coordinator, Minnesota Zoo
Tommy Sar — Coordinator of Community Programming, Ordway
Susan Tarnowski — VSA Minnesota board member, retired higher education administrator

Additional grants will be announced the first week of June 2018. The next grant application deadline will be late fall, 2018, with updated guidelines which are not yet available. Find summaries of past grants at

Founded in 1986, VSA Minnesota is a statewide, nonprofit organization whose mission is to create a community where people with disabilities can learn through, participate in and access the arts. It is an affiliate of VSA, a program of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

Comments (0) • Posted in Announcements, News by Jon Skaalen on February 26, 2018.

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