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Home > About > News and Events > News > Field News > Cultural Planning Spurs Discussion around Respect for Disabled Artists

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Cultural Planning Spurs Discussion around Respect for Disabled Artists

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Oct 18, 2017

Cultural planning processes in New York, as well as other cities, has created a renewed space for discussing the experience of disabled artists and their rights within the field. While discussions around diversity are often core to cultural planning, disability is not often considered within a diversity framework.

“Disability is left out of conversations about diversity,” says Jessy Yates, who helped organize artists with disabilities as part of the de Blasio administration’s CreateNYC cultural plan process. “If we don’t force our way into the conversation, no one is going to change their behaviors.”

According to City Limits, “Artists with disabilities say new language by the city—like frequent references to artists with disabilities in the CreateNYC plan—is a welcome gesture of inclusion, but they add that the city must build on that acknowledgement by deliberately funding artists with disabilities, holding art spaces accountable for the inclusion and paying for accessibility measures, especially at smaller art spaces.”

Yates recalls the experience of being disabled and attempting to navigate the arts world. “I was trying to minimize my disability as much as possible,” Yates says. “I was so uncomfortable taking up space in my body.” Because of this difficulty, she advocates or other disabled artists who may want to have a creative career, but don’t feel that they have a voice.

“Full, meaningful inclusion for people with disabilities in the cultural sector goes beyond providing accommodations for audience members and visitors. It means engaging those with disabilities as cultural producers and curators, artists, funders, board members, thought leaders, and employees at all levels including leadership,” said NYC Cultural Affars commissioner Tom Finkelpearl.

Read more about CreateNYC’s approach to artists with disabilities here.

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.