Thanks to a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s New York Theater Program administered by The New York Foundation of the Arts, and established in connection with a pilot partnership between The Lark and The Apothetae, a non-profit theater organization in New York committed to staging new narratives that explore and illuminate the Disabled Experience, we envision this day of conversation as an important step in promoting, celebrating and establishing new models of access and opportunity for disabled artists in the field.
We believe it is of vital importance that disabled artists are able to represent their experience in the American theatre. Currently, there are a number of specific challenges facing these artists and the producers who support these voices. Our goal with this convening is to bring together a wide cross-section of artists, organizations, advocates and allies who have been identified as being committed to this work, to generate ideas about how to strengthen the ability of disabled artists to contribute to the diversity of American theatre.
As with all programs of this nature at The Lark, we intend this convening to be structured as a process conversation, where challenges can be aired, solutions debated, opportunities brainstormed and progress generated. We know there is a problem, in the under-representation and misrepresentation of disabled voices in our cultural conversation. We know there are individuals and organizations who are committed to addressing that problem. And we want to get together and talk about it, with a diverse group of stakeholders from all areas of the field, including artists, activists, advocates, educators and audiences, alongside representatives from theaters, resource organizations, foundations and advocacy groups. It is our hope that we can begin to identify and celebrate current efforts that exist, create a viable network of resource-sharing among participants, provide the opportunity for partnership and collaboration among attendees and begin a series of next steps towards greater access, opportunity, and representation in the future.
On that level, we conceive this as the beginning of a larger conversation. We hope that it will lead to tangible next steps, and we hope it will lead us to more allies whom we might want to join us in future convenings.
The goals of the convening are to:
Assemble a diverse network of artists and leaders in the field who are stakeholders in the advancement of disabled artists, to discuss current and planned initiatives that are being undertaken, allow for the sharing of resources or creation of potential partnerships and provide a forum for strategizing next steps toward the advancement of disabled artists in the theater.
For the first portion of the day, we plan to assemble a diverse network of artists and leaders in the field who are currently engaged in initiatives dedicated to the advancement of disabled artists. At this time, participants will introduce themselves to each other by describing current and planned work related to the advancement of disabled artists, articulate successes and/or successful models nationally, and identify specific needs in response to the continuing challenges for disabled artists and the people who support them.
In the second half of the day, we will introduce a wider assembly of stakeholders to each other and to the work that each individual participant is engaged in, report on outcomes articulated in the morning session and brainstorm strategies for collaboration, partnership and advancement within the context of a wider and expanding community of stakeholders.