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Universal Participation Initiative Grants Support Risk-Taking & Staff Development

Charles G. Baldwin, Program Officer

2 dancers in wheelchairs performing at Jacob's Pillow
Kinetic Light performance at Jacob’s Pillow in 2018. Photo: Hayim Heron.

The Universal Participation (UP) Initiative is forged in the processes of Universal Design, supporting the work of cultural organizations that both provides and compels inclusion. In FY22 Mass Cultural Council provided funding to UP Designated organizations through the Innovation Fund and LEAD Professional Development Grants. Both grants come with expectations of the recipients to contribute to the ever-growing Community of Practice that is a key component of the UP Initiative.

Through the Innovation Fund, $3,000 grants were awarded to support innovative, inclusive actions by cultural organizations that will dismantle barriers and create equitable opportunities for civic and social participation. For example:

  • Monkeyhouse Dance (Malden) is activating improvisational performance techniques into their approach to administration policy.
  • Springfield Museums (Springfield) is working with user/experts to deploy accessible wayfinding for their campus.
  • Open Door Theater (Acton) is partnering with American Repertory Theater (Cambridge) to diversify the local audio-describer pool in the greater Boston area.
  • Jacob’s Pillow (Becket) is in development with user/experts and consultants to become a Hub for Artists with Disabilities
  • Sea the World Productions (Chilmark) is creating a dual language, accessible filmmaker production class.

Almost a third of Innovation Fund grantees are looking at their organization’s websites, upgrading to the Web Consortium’s Accessibility Guidelines, or their staff (empowering employees with self-knowledge and institutional respect).

LEAD Professional Development Grants offer $1,000 for staff from UP Designated organizations to attend the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) Conference, an annual convention produced by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and hosted at cities across the country.

Congratulations to all of the Grant Recipients

Innovation Fund
American Repertory Theater, Cambridge
Arisia, Cambridge
ArtsEmerson, Boston
Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Boston
Cape Cod Theatre Project, Falmouth
Commonwealth Shakespeare, Boston
Discovery Museum, Acton
Empowerment Through the Arts, Shutesbury
Gnome, Fall River
Gore Place, Waltham
Greater Boston Stage Company, Stoneham
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
Jacob’s Pillow, Becket
Mass Audubon
Monkeyhouse, Malden
The Nature Connection, Concord
Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge
Open Door Theater, Acton
Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Somerville
Sea the World Productions, Chilmark
South Shore Conservatory of Music, Duxbury
Springfield Museums, Springfield
Talking Information Center, Marshfield
Theatre Espresso, Cambridge
WAM Theatre, Lenox
Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester

LEAD Professional Development Grants
American Repertory Theater, Cambridge
ArtsEmerson, Boston
Boston Dance Alliance, Boston
Discovery Museum, Acton
Huntington Theatre, Boston
Jacob’s Pillow, Becket
Open Door Theater, Acton

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