Founded in 1986, Art-Reach was born out of an equal desire to fill theater and performance spaces to capacity and increase participation in the arts for people with disabilities. Art-Reach set out to make unfulfilled tickets available to people who never had the opportunity to see a play, dance performance or go to a museum. A wide gap existed between the disability community and the cultural engagement sector. Art-Reach was founded to bridge this gap.
By 2006 Art-Reach’s programs were building momentum and their position in Philadelphia’s cultural landscape was growing. From 2006–2011, Art-Reach built participatory arts programs with artists visiting Member locations as well as educational programs at our cultural sites—allowing the people we serve to move from observation to participation.
In 2014 Art-Reach launched ACCESS Philly, marking its first city-wide public initiative. ACCESS Philly allows Philadelphia’s low-income community to attend area museums for $2 a person. Thousands of ACCESS cardholders engage with the program every month and the potential for the ACCESS Philly continues to grow at a record pace. In 2018, Art-Reach expanded ACCESS Philly to include performance and live arts venues, making it the first the program of its kind in the country to unite the museum and theater communities in a comprehensive engagement strategy. Today, Pennsylvania Access Cardholders can now visit 51 cultural sites for $2 per person.
The work of Art-Reach today has grown beyond the flagship Ticketing Program to include curated experiences, large scale collaborative initiatives, unified dialog, training, advocacy and social change.