GRANT CELEBRATES THE ARTS & ADULTS WITH DISABILITIES
Written by Constance Alexander.
The Murray-Calloway County Endowment for Health Care and award-winning writer Constance Alexander are recipients of an Arts Access Grant from the Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency supported by state tax dollars and the National Endowment for the Arts. Entitled “Hope & Glory: The Art of Inclusion,” the grant will support a year-long series of hands-on arts experiences, as well as arts-related programming and community outreach to celebrate adults with disabilities and increase awareness of the many ways they contribute to the community’s well-being.
The project kicks off August 18, with the Playhouse in the Park production of The Penguin Project’s “Peter Pan Junior.” The Penguin Project was created by Dr. Andrew Morgan to foster collaboration between young actors with disabilities, and peer mentors who provide on-stage support to perform a modified version of the well-known Broadway musical. Holly Bloodworth, Kentucky Teacher of the Year 2014, will direct the production.
Grant funds will be applied to the purchase and distribution of “Peter Pan Junior” tickets so individuals with disabilities and groups associated with disabilities can attend. The Endowment will also host audience talk-back sessions on the ways theatre enriches the community when inclusion is a priority.
Constance Alexander, recipient of a 2014 Governor’s Award in the Arts, will provide artistic direction for “Hope & Glory” and will conduct creative writing workshops and coordinate arts programming on topics associated with disabilities.
Other local artists and organizations collaborating on the grant include: Lisa Cope, executive director of Murray’s Playhouse in the Park; Debi Henry Danielson, executive director of the Murray Art Guild; Nicole Hand, artist and Murray State University professor; Station Manager Chad Lampe, WKMS-FM; Sandy Linn, Calloway County Library, Acquisitions/Collection Development/Community Relations; Laura Miller, Special Olympics Regional Director; and Executive Director Peggy Williams, WATCH, Inc.
According to Keith Travis, Vice President of Development for the Endowment, “Hope & Glory: The Art of Inclusion” is an excellent way to observe the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Grant activities are designed to attract diverse participation, and include a range of arts experiences that showcase the benefits of inclusion,” he said.
“Our community has been pro-active in recognizing the needs of children with disabilities, but we can do better to ensure that adults with disabilities are not overlooked. The arts are a model for inclusion, and can be an important factor in a community’s good health,” he concluded.
On January 14, 2016, the Endowment hosted a focus group that included thirty-three community leaders and representatives from local arts organizations. Discussion focused on adults with disabilities and ways the community might be more responsive to assist in smooth transitions from childhood to adulthood. Group consensus was unanimous that the community could do more to support adults with disabilities through the arts, and eighteen meeting participants offered to write letters of support for the grant.
Additional plans associated with “Hope & Glory: The Art of Inclusion” are in formative stages, but some proposed events and activities include a community read of books about adults with disabilities; adults with disabilities working side-by-side with local artists and writers; and a community mosaic or mosaics constructed from individual pieces created by people of every age, ability, and income level. Collaborative art works that result will be displayed in high-traffic areas of the community, raising awareness of the beauty of inclusion and showcasing the way every piece -- regardless of the artist’s skills -- contributes to the overall design.
The Arts Access Assistance Grant is made possible through the Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, which is supported by state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.