Six Metro Arts Groups Receive Accessibility Grants

Six Twin Cities arts organizations received ADA Access Improvement Grants, totaling $67,320, to make their arts programs more accessible to people with disabilities. Since 2010, VSA Minnesota has funded 119 projects by 66 different organizations, totaling $1,380,320.

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 projects and summaries follow (* = short-term impact guidelines, with smaller grant amount available):

Organization, City — Grant
Artability (People Incorporated), St. Paul — $7,500*
The Arts’ Nest, Minneapolis — $12,500
Illusion Theater & School, Minneapolis — $12,060
Nimbus Theatre, Minneapolis — $15,000
Take-Up Productions (Trylon Cinema), Minneapolis — $15,000
Young Dance, Minneapolis — $5,260*

Artability (People Incorporated), St. Paul — $7,500*
Artability, which encourages mental health through visual and written artistic expression, will provide art supplies, instructors and ASL interpreters to increase access to its free art-making workshops for Deaf Mental Health Services (DMHS) artists.

The Arts’ Nest, Minneapolis — $12,500
The Arts’ Nest will remodel a current storage room on the main level of Phoenix Theater into both a wheelchair accessible single occupant restroom and an accessible dressing room space for performers.

Illusion Theater & School, Minneapolis — $12,060
Illusion Theater will adapt the front row of its theater to create additional accessible seating for people in wheelchairs, crutches and walkers. This will entail labor costs to remove current seating, purchase removable chairs, and repair the floor. It will also conduct focus groups with current and prospective theatre patrons who are hearing impaired to create connections and understand ways to improve their experience at Illusion, leading to increased attendance by that community.

Nimbus Theatre, Minneapolis — $15,000
Nimbus will make the entrance to their new theater building fully accessible.

Take-Up Productions (Trylon Cinema), Minneapolis $15,000
The Trylon Microcinema will renovate its movie theater with a new entryway and street façade that enables easy access for patrons with disabilities, and three additional wheelchair accessible spaces in the 100-seat theater.

Young Dance, Minneapolis — $5,260*
Young Dance will conduct an Invitation to Belonging Summer Institute, a one-week intensive workshop for teens and adults with and without disabilities, investigating the role the arts have in creating and sustaining inclusive communities.

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:
Emma Allen, Bell Museum, Associate Director of Visitor Service and of Operations
David Fenley, MN State Council on Disability, Accessibility Specialist
Stuart Holland, MN Radio Talking Book Network, Manager, State Services for the Blind
Sam Jasmine, VSA MN Board member; Disabled & Proud, Program Director
Mary Pendergast, Anodyne Artists, Director
David Pisa, Walking Shadow Theatre, Executive Director
Cindy Tarshish, ADA Minnesota, Director
Anne Ulseth, AQUA Public Relations, Anne Q. Ulseth & Associates

Application forms and a list of past recipients can be downloaded at

Twelve applications were submitted by the May 1, 2017 grant deadline, and they will be reviewed June 1, 2017.
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VSA Minnesota is a statewide, nonprofit organization, founded in 1986, 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 January 24, 2017.

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