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Towards a Culture of Access: Findings from the Massachusetts Arts & Culture Access Survey, a new report from Open Door Arts (formerly VSA Massachusetts), supported in part by Mass Cultural Council, shares valuable information to better understand where the arts and culture sector in Massachusetts is regarding accessibility for people with disabilities, what’s getting in the way of progress, and what may help the sector move forward.
I have been working in Access since 2001 at Wheelock Family Theatre, and leading Access since 2016 at Mass Cultural Council. Last year, I worked with Open Door Arts to distribute the survey to Access coordinators across the state whose results informed this new report. I know the actions and practices of inclusion and how it is intrinsically linked to Access, but what of the cultural sector of the Commonwealth?
Mass Cultural Council aspires to create equitable opportunities for constituents who are Deaf or Disabled, and the findings in this report set a course of action for the Agency; to deepen our relationships within the Disability community, to evaluate our current grants and services, and to recommend modifications on internal systems. Additionally, the report highlights the need for the Agency to further develop – and broaden – the platform for growing our current Access work through the Universal Participation (UP) Initiative.
As noted in the report’s preamble:
“Disabled people matter as visitors and audiences, and also as creators, decision makers, and leaders in all aspects of our organizations. We don’t need a survey to tell us that disabled people matter, but we hope this report will challenge us to embrace and pursue collective accountability and action to build an arts and cultural sector that truly reflects the full range of our human experience.”