Art-Reach receives over $1 million in philanthropic funding for Project 76, a three-year effort to make Philadelphia the most accessible U.S. city for arts and culture by 2026.
PHILADELPHIA (December 15, 2023) — In anticipation of the city’s 2026 semiquincentennial celebration, Art-Reach is launching Project 76, a three-year effort to establish Philadelphia as the most accessible city in the United States for people with disabilities to independently engage with the arts. Project 76 is broken into three elements: the Philadelphia Agreement, a new Accessibility Planning Task Force, and NOTABLE.
The Philadelphia Agreement is a collective agreement between disabled and creative leaders in the city aimed at establishing new accessibility standards for the arts that go beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. “In America’s most disabled city, the arts are such a vital resource for the community and we have to create belonging and safe space for disabled residents,” shared John Orr, Executive Director at Art-Reach. “The Philadelphia Agreement will show how community driven change is powerful tool for transforming public spaces.” The Philadelphia Agreement will be led in partnership with a cross-sector coalition of community leaders. Funding of $400,000 over the next three years has been provided by the Barra Foundation.
Leah Reisman, Program Officer at the Barra Foundation shared, “”We are delighted to support Art-Reach in its bold efforts to create transformative new standards for access to the arts for people with disabilities. The Philadelphia Agreement has the potential to change the game in terms of accessibility via community leadership, and establish Philadelphia as an exemplar for the nation.”
As part of Project 76, Art-Reach is developing the Accessibility Planning Task Force—a team of strategic accessibility planners who will provide comprehensive accessibility plans to 76 cultural organizations in and around Philadelphia prior to the semiquincentennial. In alignment with Art-Reach’s “nothing about us without us” approach, the task force will engage and compensate over 2,000 disabled Philadelphians for sharing their lived experience during the planning process at cultural sites over the next three years. Plans generated by the task force are completely underwritten to ensure that creative organizations have the capacity to afford a planning process before 2026. Over $800,000 in funding for this portion of the project has been provided by the William Penn Foundation.
“Art-Reach’s community-centered approach with Project 76 highlights an important intersection of disability justice and economic inclusion on the horizon of the city’s 2026 celebration,” explained Barbara Wong, William Penn Foundation Program Director. “That intersection naturally flows into the efforts of the Accessibility Task Force, showcasing the power and importance of representation and community voice. We are excited by the impact Project 76 will have for arts and culture organizations and the disabilities community—making a more inclusive sector where accessibility is created together.”
Finally, with support from the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, Art-Reach will launch NOTABLE in 2024. NOTABLE is a leadership development initiative for people with disabilities aimed at exploring disability representation at the leadership and board level of organizations. Participants in NOTABLE will be compensated, have a one-to-one executive coach, and share their insights on a new podcast series.
According to Orr, “All three of these projects on their own would have an impact on Philadelphia but being able to execute all three in tandem will create one of the most robust accessibility efforts ever attempted by any creative sector in the country.”
Believing that art is a human right, Art-Reach creates, advocates for, and expands accessible opportunities in the arts so the full spectrum of society is served. They are a team of disabled and non-disabled advocates, educators, artists, and allies working to make the arts an inclusive space for the disability community, led by the disability community. They believe everyone should have the chance to engage with the arts. Their work seeks to understand the intersectional relationship between disability, race, and poverty and they strive to learn from the lived experiences of people to create lasting change.
About the Barra Foundation:
The Barra Foundation invests in innovation to inspire change that strengthens communities in the Greater Philadelphia region. Barra’s investments are designed to address the needs of low-income populations in the region and promote a vibrant cultural community. The foundation provides approximately $4 million in annual grants to 501(c)(3) organizations that are focused on supporting innovation in and across the fields of Arts & Culture, Education, Health and Human Services. Through its Catalyst Fund, Barra provides risk capital for early-stage, bold approaches that have the potential to result in outsized impact and thriving, equitable communities. These projects test novel approaches to entrenched or emerging problems in an effort to push boundaries and inspire transformative change.
About William Penn Foundation:
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, provide inclusive and equitable public spaces and arts and culture experiences, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. Learn more at www.williampennfoundation.org.
About Pennsylvania Council for the Arts:
Pennsylvania Council for the Arts is a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts. Their mission is to strengthen the cultural, educational, and economic vitality of Pennsylvania’s communities through the arts.
Press Contact: Julian Harper, Director of Communications / 267-515-6726 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Contact: John Orr, Executive Director / 267-515-6721 / email@example.com