Join Us for the Minnesota Arts Access Chautauqua

Register TODAY for the Arts Access Chautauqua — a statewide gathering for Minnesota artists, arts administrators and arts participants with disabilities to talk about and demonstrate accessibility to the arts — on Friday-Saturday, September 25-26, 2015 at the Cowles Center for Dance & Performing Arts in Minneapolis.

VSA Minnesota is convening the state arts community — for the first time since 1992 — to celebrate artists with disabilities and advancements in accessibility to the arts in light of civil rights provided in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which became law 25 years ago on July 26, 1990.

The Arts Access Chautauqua will:

  • Acknowledge successes in the Minnesota arts community since passage of the ADA;
  • Recognize and show artistically the emergence of people with disabilities as active members of the Minnesota arts community;
  • Identify challenges that continue to serve as barriers to full inclusion of people with disabilities in the state arts environment;
  • Clarify best practices for arts organizations to serve people with disabilities more effectively; and
  • Explore new opportunities to more fully engage people with disabilities with the arts.

In forums, presentations, showcases and a Friday night public performance, Minnesotans with and without disabilities will speak, perform, exhibit and discuss as musicians, actors, storytellers, dancers, writers, visual artists, arts administrators and audience members.

In this watercolor and pencil artwork, two women and a man, each wearing glasses, look outward, with possibly a heart image near the center.

“Family,” by cynTHIA Kimman of Minneapolis is one of the artworks in the Chautauqua’s “Here I Am” exhibit and sale Sept. 25-26 at the Cowles Center for Dance.

A Visual Art Exhibit and Sale will feature artwork by more than 30 Minnesota artists with disabilities on the theme “Here I Am.” Artists selected by Exhibit Coordinator Halle O’Falvey and a curating committee include: Ken Benson, Simon Carvalho, cynTHIA Kimman, Lisa Dietz, Janelle Doyle, Diego Dunji, Mark East, Janice Essick, Renee Granger-Smith, Stephanie Griener, Robin Hoy, Tara Innmon, Lucy Johnson, Angela Johnson, Pamela Kirton, Kandace Krause, Ruth Lais, Cecilia Lieder, Brad Marjesky, Lynne Ness, TJ Neumiller, Rosemary Perronteau, Christine Peterson, Jennifer Platter, Bridget Riversmith, Jonelle Salemi, Anne Sawyer-Aitch, Julia Spencer, David Spohns, Anne Spooner, Celie Taatjes, Tim Traver, Bob Williams. And from LifeWorks: Terry Altenberg, Preston Anderson, Mikki England, Nikki England, Anne Gustafson, Michelle Hermanson, Angela Johnson, Elizabeth Koble, Bradley Majeski, Amber Palmer, Jacy Rupp, Heather Schendel.

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT! — See the list of performers below for the “Here I Am” public performance in the Goodale Theater Friday at 7:30 with artistic coordinator Leslye Orr. Tickets to the performance and post-show reception are included for Chautauqua attendees, but the public is invited to attend for only $15, students/seniors $8 (even less IN ADVANCE).

8:00-9:15 AM Registration and Breakfast in U.S. Bank Atrium

9:30-10:30 AM Opening General Session
Goodale Theater
Reflections on the 25 years Since the Passage of the ADA
Craig Dunn, executive director, VSA Minnesota – The Minnesota Arts Access Timeline
Sue Gens, executive director, Minnesota State Arts Board – The Arts Board’s Role in Addressing Access to the Arts for Minnesotans with Disabilities

11:00 AM – 12:15 PM Breakout Session 1
Advocacy for Access for Artists and Arts Consumers with Disabilities
Target Studio
Deborah Helmke-Wodtke, visual arts instructor, Interact Center; St. Paul
Char Coal, visual and performing artist, ZagZum, producer and curator; Minneapolis
Lilli Sprintz, artist, advocate; St. Louis Park
Through examples, demonstration, and discussion, panelists will share past advocacy achievements, offer techniques of positive advocacy, and inspire action for continued progress in access to the arts for the next decade.

Arts Access in Greater Minnesota
Karen Aakre, artist; Fergus Falls
Stacey O’Connell, artist, We-R-Artists co-facilitator; St. Cloud
What are Greater Minnesota’s achievements in arts access over the past 25 years – for venues, programs, transportation, inclusion of persons with disabilities? Active artists will explore continuing challenges or barriers for artists, audience and arts organizations, and offer their visions for arts access in the next 25 years. Q&A with audience will draw out more experiences.

On Theatrical Interpreting
Goodale Theater
Claire Alexander, ASL theatrical interpreter, Fringe Fest ASL coordinator; Minneapolis
Patty Gordon, ASL theatrical interpreter, teacher, StoryBlend co-director; St. Paul
Raymond Luczak, poet/playwright/publisher, Minneapolis
Through examples, experience, demonstration and discussion, panelists will share with arts patrons and organizations the importance and possibilities of quality interpreting as both an art and a performance unto itself.

12:15-1:30 PM Lunch in U.S. Bank Atrium

1:45-3:00 PM Breakout Session 2
Audience Members Using Communication Accommodations
Target Studio
Jeanette Frederickson, arts patronusing ASL interpreting & captioning, retired attorney; St. Paul
Mandy Frederickson, arts patron using ASL interpreting & captioning, teacher; St. Paul
Ken Rodgers, arts patron using audio description, MnDOT, American Council of the Blind (Minnesota) and Minneapolis Advisory Committee on People with Disabilities; Minneapolis
Fans of theatre, film, music, exhibits, etc. share personal experiences and benefits attending arts activities by using various communications technology accommodations; what happens when “best practices” aren’t followed, and suggestions for patrons and arts organizations to make future arts experiences better for all.

Dealing with Access Issues as a Small Arts Project/Organization: You Are Not Off the Access Hook Because You Are Small
Scott Artley, access consultant; performance curator at Patrick’s Cabaret; Minneapolis
Alan Berks, playwright, Workhaus Collective,; Minneapolis
Elspeth Carlstrom, formerly Caponi Art Park, Eagan
Jeff Mihelich, patron/advocate who’s requested accommodations; Minneapolis
When the nonprofit mind is willing but the budget is weak, how do small organizations meet the practical challenges of accommodating patrons with disabilities who need accommodations in order to enjoy their art experience? Examples and tips will help both advocates and small arts projects and organizations to combine their passion for arts with a passion for “access” to meet both the spirit and letter of the ADA for all their patrons and participants.

Promoting and Publicizing Access Within Your Institution
Goodale Theater
Claire Avitabile, staff, 20% Theatre Twin Cities and the Jewish Community Center; Minneapolis
Jeff Larson, executive director, Minnesota Fringe Festival; Minneapolis
Jack Reuler, artistic director, Mixed Blood Theatre; Minneapolis
Deborah Girdwood, director of Access & Special Programs, Children’s Theatre Co.; Minneapolis
Learn from administrators who have been among the leaders in offering creative programs, policies and practices that welcome persons with disabilities to participate fully in the arts.

3:00-3:30 PM Cookie/Fruit Break in U.S. Bank Atrium

3:30-4:45 PM Breakout Session 3
Minnesota Artists with Disabilities Talk about Their Successes & Challenges During the 25 Years since the Passage of the ADA
Target Studio
Joseph Baird, singer/songwriter; Plymouth
Paul Mabon, performer, Little Canada
Leslye Orr, actor/storyteller/writer; St. Paul

Active and working artists with disabilities share their personal stories, suggestions and advice to enlighten other artists as well as administrators who seek to employ performers with disabilities.

Your Growing Audience of People with Disabilities
Jeanie Brindley-Barnett, Giving Voice Choir director; Minneapolis
Alex Lubet, Founding Head, Division of Creative Studies and Media, U of M School of Music; Head, Interdisciplinary Graduate Group in Disability Studies; St. Paul
Jill Vaughn, access coordinator, History Theatre & Park Square; St. Paul
Maria Genne, Founder/Director, Kairos Alive; Minneapolis

This panel will help create in your mind (a) pictures of how audiences (especially individuals and groups across the spectrum of disabilities and ages) have evolved over the past 25 years, (b) what artists, arts organizations and disability advocates have tried or are putting into practice to make sure people with disabilities have comparable opportunities to attend, enjoy and participate in the arts, and (c) why it’s important.

Making Your Website Accessible
Goodale Theater
Joe Dolson, Accessible Web Design,; St. Paul
With visual/auditory aides to demonstrate what screen-readers actually do, this session will show what a truly accessible website is like. It will inspire you to “up your game” where accessibility is concerned – with your writing, images, drop-down menus and forms to step you into the world of accessible web sites!

FRIDAY, SEPT. 25, 7:30 to 9:00 PM
HERE I AM Concert
Goodale Theater
Mistress of Ceremonies: Leslye Orr, Chautauqua Artistic Coordinator, St. Paul
Carei Thomas and Friends, music, Minneapolis
Interact Theater, music/theatre, St. Paul
Treading North, music, Minneapolis
CHOICE, unlimited’s Arts Program, music/theatre, Duluth
Amy Salloway, storytelling, Minneapolis
Raymond Luczak, poetry, Minneapolis
Joyce Sutphen, poetry, Chaska
Mike Cohn and Friends, dance, St. Louis Park

Followed by free reception in the U.S. Bank Atrium


8:00-9:15 AM Registration and Breakfast in U.S. Bank Atrium

9:30-10:30 AM General Session
Goodale Theater
Looking Forward
Jeanne Calvit, artistic director, Interact Center – Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my! (Accommodating All Disabilities in One Arts Organization)
Jon Skaalen, access & grants coordinator, VSA Minnesota – Access as an Institutional Asset
Performer to be announced

11:00 AM – 12:15 PM Breakout Session 4
Networking/Sharing Sessions for Artists and Administrators
All Spaces
What’s your main arts interest group? Meet with fellow artists, administrators and advocates to get to know each other, and share accessibility and work experiences. These networking sessions can enhance our various arts communities and possibly lead to creative collaboration. NOTE-TAKER wanted in each to jot down questions, challenges, ideas, possible solutions, priorities.
Advocates – Arts Administrators – Musicians – Storytellers – Theatre/Dance Artists – Visual Artists – Writers

12:15-1:30 PM Lunch in U.S. Bank Atrium

1:45-3:00 PM Breakout Session 5
Making A Case for Ability-Inclusive Casting
Target Studio
Taous Claire Khazem, performer, teaching artist at Interact Center; St. Paul
Kathy Ray, playwright, director, performer from Prairie Wind Players and Playing on Purpose Productions; Barrett
Jack Reuler, artistic director of Mixed Blood Theatre; Minneapolis
You’ve heard of colorblind casting. What is ability-inclusive casting, and what are its potential benefits (or cautions) in broadening future opportunities for performers with disabilities, artistic staff with disabilities and audience members who can “see themselves” onstage.

New Technologies
All Spaces
(1) VISION LOSS break-out:
Stuart Holland, Radio Talking Book & State Services for the Blind (SSB); Mpls.
Jesse Shirek, audio description patron; vision rehab specialist for ND School for the Blind, Fargo/Moorhead,
Sherry Shirek, audio description patron; accessibility consultant and committee member for State Rehab Council & ND Assn for the Blind; Fargo/Moorhead
Renee Youngberg, Vision Loss Resources ; Minneapolis

(2) HEARING LOSS break-out:
Susan Lane-Outlaw, executive director, Metro Deaf School; St. Paul
Paul Deeming, ASL interpreter, DeafBlind Services program manager; Eagan
(3) MOBILITY break-out:
Peter Elvidge, iPad/tablet/social media user; Twin Cities
Phil Kragnes, adaptive technology specialist, University of Minnesota; Minneapolis

3:30-4:45 PM Closing Session
Goodale Theater
Reflection / Evaluation
Performers to be announced

The Cowles Center for Dance & Performing Arts at 528 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, has been the home of VSA Minnesota since 1989 (as Hennepin Center for the Arts). Home to three theatres, as well as dance studios, meeting rooms, lobbies for art exhibits and Mason’s Restaurant, it is one block from light rail and Target Center and across the street from City Centre and the new Mayo Clinic.

ACCESSIBILITY ACCOMMODATIONS: Audio description, American Sign Language interpreting and CART (captioning) will be provided. Special dietary requests can be accommodated for breakfast/lunch with advance registration.

A day’s registration includes breakfast and lunch. Friday’s registration includes the 7:30 performance and reception.
Both Days: $50 ($60 after Sept. 20, $70 at the door)
Conference Only (without Friday show): $45 ($55 after Sept. 20, $65 at the door)
Friday only (includes evening show): $35 ($40 after Sept. 20, $45 at the door)
Saturday only: $25 ($30 after Sept. 20, $35 at the door)
Session Only (Choose up to 2 morning or afternoon sessions/workshops; NO food): $10
Friday 7:30 Show/Reception Only: $10 ($15 after Sept. 20 or at the door)
Friday 7:30 Show/Reception Only: Student/Senior 60+: $5 ($8 after Sept. 20 or at the door)

The Chautauqua Schedule and Registration Form are on our website under Artists with Disabilities Resources. Contact VSA Minnesota if you would like a copy mailed to you, sent in any format, or wish to register by phone: 612-332-3888, 800-801-3883, or

HOTEL: A special Chautauqua hotel rate is available at the Marriott Minneapolis City Center, one block from the Cowles Center at 30 South 7th Street) — $113 for single or double occupancy (Standard King, Double or Accessible Room). Reservations guaranteeing this rate were due by Sept. 3, but if they have rooms available you can still get this rate. Call Marriott Reservations at 1-800-228-9290 or 612-349-4000. Say you are “part of the VSA Minnesota group.”

FUNDING: The Arts Access Chautauqua is made possible by an Arts Access grant from the State Arts Board, thanks to funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, which voters approved in 2008. The program is being put together by Chautauqua Coordinator Shelia Bland, VSA Minnesota staff, board and a steering committee.

Volunteers Wanted — We love volunteers! If you can help, please email Shelia Bland or call 612-332-3888 or 800-801-3883.

Chautauqua (sha-tawk-wa) is an Iroquois word, meaning either “two moccasins tied together,” “bag tied at the middle,” “where the fish are taken out” or “jumping fish.” The term refers to an adult education movement featuring lectures, plays and musical performances; the word is also used for any single organization pursuing this activity. The idea originated in 1874 in Chautauqua, New York, which lends its name to the format, but was soon copied elsewhere. (Wikipedia)

Comments (0) • Posted in Artists with Disabilities, Exhibits & Presentations by VSA Minnesota, News by Jon Skaalen on August 11, 2015.

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