You can make Art Accessibility happen by simply saying ‘Yes’

Justin Morrisey and fellow dancers performing a tap performance
Left Photo: Justin from Overbrook School for the blind performing with tap partner from PA Ballet. Middle Photo: PHS with Story Pirates. Right Photo: Associated services for the blind during Adapted Philadelphia Flower Show tour

Dear Friends of Art-Reach,

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the impact of ‘Yes’. At Art-Reach, we collaborate and partner with so many organizations – more than 400 organizations in fact! And through those partnerships, we engage over 160,000 people each year with accessible experiences in the arts. We ask a lot of questions – and fortunately, we hear ‘Yes’ a lot. Today, I am asking you to say ‘Yes’ too.

For decades, people with disabilities have heard no, after no, after no. That is just not acceptable to Art-Reach. Together, we can do better – we can create a more accessible world, an equitable world. As you know, we believe that disability is a product of design rather than diagnosis and that good design opens up opportunities in the arts that have not been available before. But it takes a willingness from all of us to say ‘Yes’.

  • This year, ten young adults said ‘Yes’ when we wanted to create an original tap performance with the Pennsylvania Ballet and Overbrook School for the Blind. They even said ‘Yes’ when we told them they would perform live in front of a packed house at FringeArts.
  • All of our partners said ‘Yes’ when we planned 1,972 trips for groups to visit museums, theaters, gardens and live arts venues. And they said ‘Yes’ again when  Art-Reach planned 232 immersive, participatory experiences for people with disabilities to engage with the arts.
  • Over 600 cultural professionals said ‘Yes’ when they went through Art-Reach’s Cultural Accessibility Training. And hundreds more said ‘Yes’ through their attendance at Art-Reach’s Cultural Accessibility Forum and Exchange (CAFE) workshops.
  • Most exciting right now, is that two of Art-Reach’s board members said ‘Yes’ when I asked them to match, dollar for dollar, every donation we receive until June 30, 2018. If you have ever wanted to say ‘Yes’ to Art-Reach – now is the time.

Every year, Art-Reach raises just under $500,000 to run the entire organization. That means that for every $3 we raise, another person engages with the arts in an accessible way.

Next year, we want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to engage with the arts. In Philadelphia, over 250,000 people self-identify as having a disability. Art-Reach wants to make sure that every single person with a disability who wants to engage with the arts has the opportunity to do so. You can make that happen by simply saying ‘Yes’ today. I hope you will consider supporting Art-Reach to help us make the arts of our region more accessible than ever before. Together we can abandon a culture of no, and embrace the impact of ‘Yes’.

John Orr
Executive Director