Updated: May 19
At the Rittenhouse Show we have been working hard to build relationships with non-profits in the Philadelphia area that enhance and support access to the arts for underserved populations. In response to recent shutdowns due to the COVID-19 virus we wanted to check in with some of these partners to see how they are navigating during this pandemic. Let us introduce you to Art-Reach – a non-profit that creates, advocates for and expands accessible opportunities in the arts so the full spectrum of society is served.
Here is a message from Charlie Miller, Director of ACCESS Philly at Art-Reach:
Our job at Art-Reach is pretty straight forward: make sure that EVERYONE has access to the arts. We work with museums, theaters, public gardens, and other cultural institutions to be more inclusive of people with disabilities and low-income communities. This work can look very different at any given moment:
Taking students from Overbrook School for the Blind and teaching them to tap dance with the Pennsylvania Ballet - check!
Modifying an existing historical museum tour for people living on the autism spectrum - check!
Working with an art instructor to modify their painting workshop for people with different mobility functions - check!
Creating an opera master class for a group of individuals who are living with HIV, have an addition occurrence in their past, and are receiving mental health services - check!
Audio Describing the PHS Flower Show to a group of 20 folks from the Associated Services for the Blind’s gardening club (for five consecutive years now) - check!
Saving people who are low-income and/or folks with disabilities over $8 Million Dollars last year through our discounted ticket programs - check!
At the beginning of this pandemic response, many people in my life asked: “what does Art-Reach do with all your museums and theaters closed?” and many have assumed Art-Reach isn’t “doing much!” BUT our work load has actually INCREASED because cultural organizations are pumping out virtual/digital content at an alarming rate, and many are not thinking about accessibility in their outreach efforts.
Cue Art-Reach! We’ve been doing workshops on effective communication tools for social media, captioning for video content, verbally describing images and objects for digital assets, and incorporating multi-sensory participation for neuro-diverse audiences. People with certain disabilities are feeling greater isolation and lack of services than most other communities and we are tackling that problem head on, with fierce passion, and with a vision of a more just society. We know we are in unchartered territory, and we know people are scrambling to be “relevant” in this new digital world, but it doesn’t diminish or lessen the need for accessibility across the full spectrum of society. Join us in this important and timely work!
Please check out our website www.art-reach.org and follow us on all the social media platforms.