Three Twin Cities arts organizations were awarded ADA Access Improvement Grants in late February 2015 for projects to make their arts programs more accessible to people with disabilities. They are:
Soo Visual Arts Center, Minneapolis: $15,000
Interact Center for Visual & Performing Arts, St. Paul: $15,000
The Show, St. Paul: $11,115
TOTAL Funding: $41,115
This makes just over one million dollars awarded in ADA Access Improvement Grants since VSA Minnesota started administering the program in 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.
Since 2010 86 projects by 49 different organizations have been funded, totaling $1,001,258. Here are summaries of the three new projects:
Interact Center for Visual & Performing Arts, 1860 Minnehaha Ave. W., will use its Dis/Cover the Arts program to expand its capacity to grow audiences of people with disabilities by removing barriers and engaging in pro-active community outreach, better fulfilling its mission to “create art that challenges perceptions of disability.”
Soo Visual Arts Center (SooVAC) will create a permanent accessible entrance ramp from the parking lot to the main entrance of its new gallery space at 2909 Bryant Ave. S. to ensure accessibility for patrons unable to climb stairs.
The Show, a nonprofit art gallery at 253 E. 4th St. in Lowertown, specializes in promoting artists with disabilities. Its funding will pay for a webmaster, slat boards to display art at a lower level for artists and guests who use wheelchairs, and (in collaboration with the St. Paul Art Collective) an artists’ coordinator to work with artists with disabilities to display and sell art at CHS Field (where the St. Paul Saints will play in Lowertown).
Grant review panelists who are active in the metro arts and disability communities read, discussed and ranked the applications. Their recommendations were approved by the VSA Minnesota board of directors. Panelists included:
Scott Artley, Patrick’s Cabaret performance curator, consultant;
Patty Gordon, ASL interpreter, teacher, Storyblend founder;
Hunter Gullickson, Guthrie Theater access coordinator;
Stacy Shamblott, Courage Kenny SHARE Program coordinator;
Jill Vaughn, History Theatre access coordinator, consultant.
The next application deadline is May 1, 2015. Grants up to $15,000 are available, with further description and downloadable guidelines here or by calling VSA Minnesota at 612-332-3888.