Seven Twin Cities arts organizations have been awarded ADA Access Improvement Grants by VSA Minnesota. The nonprofits will use their grants, totaling $87,680, to make their arts programs more accessible to people with disabilities. Since 2010, 126 projects by 66 different organizations have been funded, totaling $1,468,000.
An 8-person panel of persons active in arts and disability communities read, discussed and scored a dozen applications; VSA Minnesota’s board approved the panel’s recommendations on June 5. Funded projects and summaries are:
Mixed Blood Theatre, Minneapolis 15,000
Pillsbury House Theatre, Minneapolis 15,000
Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis 15,000
Upstream Arts, Minneapolis 15,000
20% Theatre Company Twin Cities, Minneapolis 11,000
Alive & Kickin, Minneapolis 9,180
The Show Art Gallery, St. Paul 7,500
Mixed Blood Theatre will continue its aggressive efforts to meet the needs of theatre patrons from diverse disability communities, ensuring the accessibility of all its 2017-18 Mainstage shows.
Pillsbury House Theatre will complete a renovation and equipping project to make a high traffic art room and bathroom closest to it more accessible to people of all abilities, including groups of people with disabilities who began using these spaces in the fall of 2016.
Cedar Cultural Center will install a hearing loop system to improve accessibility for people who are hard of hearing.
Upstream Arts will provide a series of specialized trainings and curriculum development sessions – led by experts from the disability community – to increase the capacity of its Teaching Artists to provide arts programming that incorporates Person Centered Thinking, relevant to the imminent changes in the social services many adults with disabilities receive; and to use basic American Sign Language and provide accessible arts instruction to individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
20% Theatre Company Twin Cities will launch a Deaf Interpreter Internship Program in order to recruit and train new Deaf interpreters.
Alive & Kickin will tour the Twin Cities with their highly energetic and heartwarming participatory music program, “BRING OUT: Sing Out!,” to ensure singing, dancing and enjoying music together has no limits! Modeled after a highly successful in-house program, “Sing Out!,” Alive & Kickin has partnered with Augustana Health Care, and will tour to 6 locations throughout the Twin Cities with a goal of engaging 300+ people with their accessible and inspirational music program.
The Show Art Gallery will optimize the accessibility and navigability of its new gallery and educational spaces through an accessible front door, and the creation of a Gallery Audio Descriptor program.
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.
Emma Allen, Associate Director of Operations and Visitor Services, Bell Museum & Planetariume
Jacob Colon, active with U of M Disabled Student Cultural Center, University Disability Resource Center, & Somali Museum
Margot Imdieke-Cross, staff at Minnesota State Council on Disability
Kelly Krantz, Director of Independent Living Services at Metro Center for Independent Living (MCIL)
Sandy Moore, grant writer/consultant, Interact Center & other nonprofits
Adam Perry, Senior Program Director, Arts Midwest; past VSA Minnesota board member
Janet Peters, Project Coordinator for Education and Assistive Technology, Great Lakes ADA Center
Jessi Ryan, Manager of Community Engagement, Minnesota Orchestra; MN Access Alliance steering committee
The next grant application deadline will be in late 2017.