Learn More about This Dialogue

Why is this dialogue taking place?

Most artists and cultural workers, regardless of age, artistic discipline, or stage in their careers, flourish best when they have the motivational force of community to inspire and guide them. Unfortunately, artists and cultural workers with disabilities seeking to explore education, training, and employment opportunities in the arts/culture arena often lack this crucial sense of community. Our Toolkit seeks to foster this community-building spirit to nurture a strong system of support and resources such as exemplary programs, arts-related training, employment-seeking strategies, benefits guidance, and more. The overarching principle guiding our work is the firm conviction that participation in and enjoyment of all types of art, created by all types of artists, is a universal right of all people. Everyone is entitled to participate in and contribute to the culture around them; these affirmations of self-expression empower us to put forth our best selves, talents, and skills. In this way we transform our lives from mere existence into vibrant living, not only for ourselves but for all of humanity.

Artists and cultural workers with disabilities should be key part of the arts and culture sector, but are underrepresented. The path toward this underrepresentation begins early, as many children with disabilities do not have the opportunity to study an art form as a serious discipline or hobby. This lack of a “pipeline” creates virtually insurmountable challenges, particularly when students find themselves unprepared for applications to competitive schools and universities. Through the Toolkit, and with your help, the National Endowment for the Arts and Art Beyond Sight seek to change the landscape by developing a resource that will share the tools, programs, and training they will need to compete, contribute, and thrive in this challenging arena.

These dialogues are meant to widen the awareness of and conversation about how to create greater access and inclusion for people with all types of disabilities in all areas of the arts. This dialogue will enable us to develop a toolkit with the the best, latest, and most comprehensive resources and exemplary programs.

Nationwide contributions of existing resources and exemplary programs are invaluable to bringing greater and better opportunities to people with disabilities seeking employment in the arts. Additionally, a consensus on missing resources and programs may become a catalyst for grantmakers’ future funding initiatives. Our next steps: to create a comprehensive Toolkit to help educate, employ, and empower people with disabilities and ensure employment equity for artists and cultural workers with disabilities seeking jobs across all artistic/cultural disciplines.

Why participate?

Through your valuable contribution, you will be playing a crucial role in helping us bring greater and better opportunities to people with disabilities seeking employment in the arts.

Who should participate?

While we welcome everyone’s input, we are particularly focused on targeting the nation’s stakeholders in disability access and employment opportunities in the arts and culture field in five main groups:

  • People with disabilities who have or are seeking careers in the arts;
  • Stakeholders and employers in the arts and culture fields (e.g., museums, theaters, dance companies, arts service organizations, etc.);
  • Stakeholders in the disability community that advocate for the arts as an employment source;
  • Educators, mentors, and job trainers providing guidance in career development in the cultural sector; and
  • Grantmakers.

This online dialogue will run for two weeks starting on December 4, 2017. To begin participating in the online dialogue, return to the dialogue's home page and register to submit ideas, as well as, vote and comment on ideas submitted by others.