In my last post, I enjoyed writing about an opportunity that brings joy to many of the IDD community in The Triangle. This week I wanted to continue with a resource called Arts Access. Arts Access has challenged the lack of inclusive opportunities in the Arts for the IDD community. Its home is in Raleigh, but it has worked to provide inclusion for the IDD community all over North Carolina. Arts Access has not let the fact that they are the only arts-inclusion nonprofit organization in North Carolina to get in the way of the amount of change they are making.
What Arts Access Does
The main role of Arts Access is to provide access to arts opportunities for the IDD community in North Carolina. Arts Access accomplishes this through many different community outlets including parks and recreation, arts programs, performing arts centers, and school systems in the state. They provide training for all of these institutions and organizations with hope of further inclusion for individuals with IDD. Usually training comes through specified workshops depending on the type of service the organization provides. Arts Access also continuously holds workshops open to anyone who is interested in providing an inclusive environment in their arts community. Throughout COVID-19, Arts Access has had events and workshops virtually and continues to post newsletters featuring opportunities for the IDD community. This fall, Arts Access is planning on having virtual celebrations for National Disabilities Month and National Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Day in December. Arts Access is also open to posting other’s events that benefit the IDD community of North Carolina.
Arts Access’s Projects
Arts Access carries out many different initiatives and projects within the art community. All of these causes share the same goal to provide greater access to opportunities in the arts for the IDD community. I hope you enjoy reading about just a few of Arts Access’s amazing initiatives that you can get involved in!
Wake Arts Inclusion Project
Arts Access has been working hard on their Wake Arts Inclusion Project (WAIP) with Wake County Public Schools. Many teachers in the public school system have no prior education to meet the unique needs of students with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Arts Access is trying to make a difference. WAIP is a workshop series that takes place at public schools and theatres in Wake County to train teachers and staff to meet the needs of individuals with IDD and encourage inclusion. These workshops inform teachers on inclusion techniques and access to resources to meet their students’ needs.
Another important issue that Arts Access is addressing is the lack of opportunities for individuals with sight disabilities. Right now this is an issue that public education and wellness resources ignore in North Carolina. That means that many individuals never experience plays, movies, artwork, museums, or public speaking events. To confront this issue Arts Access has a program called Audio Description. This initiative offers individuals with hearing disabilities an objective description of visual art. Art Access’s goal is to have Audio Description as a free available option in all arts center’s in North Carolina. Anyone who is passionate about this can sign up to be trained to be a volunteer as well!
Arts Access also holds a super cool opportunity for artists with IDD. On their website they have a directory that features profiles of artists of the IDD community. Anyone can apply to be in this directory. The coolest thing about the Art Directory is that it opens the door for many opportunities, as the directory is sent to and viewed by anyone looking for an artist. One of the biggest uses of the directory is for theatres in North Carolina to recruit actors for their performances, as well as dance companies to recruit dancers.
A Series Of Fortunate Events
I saved my personal favorite opportunity through Arts Access for last! Every year Arts Access hosts an event called “A Series of Fortunate Events” in Raleigh. This is a showcase of artists, dancers, singers, musicians, and actors of the IDD community. This is a formal event that celebrates all of the hard work that artists of the IDD community around the triangle continuously do. This is also such a special event because it is a tangible picture of the inclusion that should exist in every realm of society that so many organizations like Arts Access are working towards.