Friday, September 23, 2011

Independence Starts Here Cultural Calendar featured at the 2011 Leadership Exchange in Arts & Disability (LEAD)

Check out the article featuring our work with VSA about our joint presentation featuring Independence Starts Here. This article is currently featured on the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance website.

Michael Norris, Art-Reach Executive Director, and Mimi Kenney-Smith, Artistic Director of Amaryllis Theatre Company and VSA, present at LEAD.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Join the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts to Celebrate the Opening of Lenfest Plaza!

This event is FREE and will feature the official lighting of Claes Oldenberg’s new sculpture, Paint Torch.  For more information check-out PAFA’s website

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Educating Kara

Kara is the granddaughter of Mimi Kenney-Smith, the Co-Chair of Independence Starts Here and longtime supporter of Art-Reach.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Autism-Friendly Performance of "The Lion King"

For the first time for Broadway in New York City, an Autism-Friendly performance will be held on October 2nd at the Minskoff Theatre with the 6-time Tony Award-winning Broadway show ,“The Lion King”.  The Theatre Development Fund (TDF), a non-profit dedicated to making live theater available and enjoyable for all, created a new pilot program called the Autism Theatre Initiative in accordance with their Theatre Accessibility Program (TAP), which helps make theaters accessible to people on the Autism spectrum and their families. 

Accommodations for this special performance include the reduction of loud or harsh sounds as well as a reduction of strobe lights concentrated on the audience. In addition, there will be staffed quiet areas in the lobby if there are any attendees who need to leave their seats during the performance. Another step  TDF took to make this performance accessible was to purchase all the seats for the performance so that they could be sold at more affordable prices. On the TDF website, there is a downloadable Word document to familiarize attendees with the theater and production beforehand, which can be very helpful for those on the Autism Spectrum who have anxieties about being in a large theater. 
Via Los Angeles Times &  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Making Our Region's Arts Education More Accessible with Art-Reach and VSA Pennsylvania

Wrap Your Mind Around This
Adapting theatrical arts education to accommodate people with disabilities
August 10th

On Wednesday, August 10th, leaders from 11 area theatres and dance companies gathered at the Adrienne Theatre to participate in a workshop hosted by Art-Reach and VSA Pennsylvania. The goal of the workshop was to develop teaching methods that will make arts education in our region more accessible to people with varying developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Mimi Kenney Smith, Producing Artistic Director of Amaryllis Theatre and VSA Pennsylvania gave an engaging introduction to the world of accessible resources for theatres. She discussed the difference between open and closed captioning (do you know it?) and shared her experience with hiring and directing actors with disabilities. 

 Presenter William Pearce specializes in teaching arts to students with disabilities and while leading the day’s workshop, he shared insightful examples of how he has created a rich learning environment for students with ADHD, autism, physical disabilities and sensory disabilities. We discussed teaching models that will enable theatres in the Philadelphia region to better serve a class, camp or other program in which attendees have varying ability levels and needs. For example, a student with dyslexia may be able to memorize a script more easily if the colors are reversed to read white letters on a black page or if every other paragraph is highlighted.

In one exercise, participants were challenged to fold an origami frog using different sets of directions that were modified based on different disabilities that a student might have. In this photo, participants attempt to fold the paper without the ability to bend their left arm.

At lunch, Stephanie Carr, Managing Director of Pushcart Players in Verona, NJ presented a Children’s Theatre program for kids with autism run by Pushcart and Papermill Playhouse. Their program enabled audience members to “meet their seats” and get used to the theatre’s space before the performance. The performance itself featured consistent lighting and sound levels and kids in the audience were free to talk, sing along and leave their seats during it. Families were able to enjoy themselves without the usual worries about their child being upset or disrupting other patrons.

Participants share ideas and plan on how to implement inclusive teaching methods in their education programs. Maureen Sweeney, Director of Education at Philadelphia Theatre Company shares her experience and how she could adapt some of her activities to reach more students.

All in all, the day was inspiring and rewarding. We all walked away with a new understanding of what students with disabilities might need from our arts education programs, how to ask them or their parents, and what resources can help us make these changes.

Art-Reach thanks the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation for their support of this project and the cultural organizations partnering with us to make Arts Education more accessible for all students.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Alexander Calder!

Alexander “Sandy” Calder was born to two artist parents on July 22nd 1898 in Lawnton, PA.  His mother was a famed portrait painter and his father was a sculptor who specialized in public installations. Calder is most known for creating the mobile in 1931 as well as his public structures.  Many of Calder’s works have been showcased and currently reside in Philadelphia. In 1949, Calder’s mobile the International Mobile was the center piece at the 3rd Sculpture International held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art among 250 artists.  One of Calder’s mobiles known as “Ghost”, created in 1964 resides in the Great Stair Hall of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.   The Three generations of Calders; Alexander “Sandy” Calder, his father Alexander Stirling Calder and his grandfather Alexander Milne Calder, worked in succession to complete a series of works on the Ben Franklin Parkway.  Milne created the William Penn Statue atop Philadelphia City Hall. Stirling created the Swann Memorial Fountain (also known as The Fountain of Three Rivers) at Logan Square on the Ben Franklin Parkway.  Where these work lie, on the Parkway, is also the spot for the proposed Calder Museum, which would not only honor Calder’s great work but the great work of his father Alexander Sterling Calder and his grandfather Alexander Milne Calder.

Even the popular search engine site Google has chosen to commemorate Calder's birthday with a uniquely designed mobile as the banner on the homepage.  Further showing the impact Calder's art had on the world at large.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Surrealist Painter Frida Kahlo Born on This Day in 1907

Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderon, known simply as Frida Kahlo; was born on this day, July 6th in 1907 in Coyoacan, Mexico City. Frieda claimed that she was born on July 7th, 1910 although her birth certificate states she was born on July 6th 1907. Kahlo said she did this so that she would be “born” after the Mexican Revolution,which began in 1910 and ended with the creation of the Mexican Constitution of 1917. into the new, modern Mexican society. 

Self Portrait-The Frame (1938)

Frida Kahlo is most known for her surrealist self portraits stating, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best”.  Frida began painting after she became temporarily immobile from a car accident as a teen as a way to occupy her time.  Kahlo’s work was inspired by indigenous Mexican culture and religion combined with a Surrealist twist of her everyday life.