People & Places - August 2014

Accessibility grants given to arts groups

VSA Arts awardEleven Twin Cities arts organizations were awarded grants for projects to make their arts programs more accessible to people with disabilities. The grants were announced last month by the arts group VSA Minnesota, which administers the grant program for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.

VSA Arts AwardThe Americans with Disability Act (ADA) Access Improvement Grants for Metro Arts Organizations are funded through the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. The purpose is to enable nonprofit arts organizations in the seven-county Twin Cities area to improve programs, projects, equipment or facilities in ways that have the potential for significant or long-term impact to involve more people with disabilities as participants or patrons in arts programs.

Lee Carlson Center – Bridgeview, Fridley, received $15,000. Bridgeview is a drop-in center for more than 500 adults with severe and persistent mental illnesses. A previous grant funded its current space. But since that move then center’s member base of participants with artistic talents has outgrown the studio space. The grant will allow enhancements to the studio/gallery space and add technology for design and reproduction of art.

Park Square Theatre, St. Paul, will use $15,000 to expand Open Captioning services for 2014-15 from one performance per production to two to four performances per production. This will provide for an expanded season of 19 projects on two stages. The long-term impact of this project includes building audiences for the accessible performances and training workers to operate Caption View software to allow the programming to continue.

The History Theatre of St. Paul received $15,000. The theater will produce two videos to introduce patrons to its accessibility services. It will also contract with an experienced consultant to help evaluate its current access plan and facilitate a planning process to establish new access improvement goals and priorities for the next three years. Funds will also be used to purchase larger ads in mainstream media to highlight access services available for productions and microphones to be used at post-show discussions, ensuring all audience members can hear the conversation.

Upstream Arts, Minneapolis, was granted $15,000 to support a series of specialized trainings and curriculum development. The sessions will be led by experts from the disability and arts communities. These sessions will increase both its organizational capacity and the capacity of its teaching artists. Most importantly, to provide accessible instruction in the arts to individuals of all abilities that draws on emerging trends and best practices within Special Education.

Pillsbury House Theatre, Minneapolis, won a grant for $15,000 to increase participation among artists experiencing disabilities. This will be done by working with a growing corps of community-engaged artists who are designing and implementing creative place-making projects that unleash the creativity of under-served communities. Project activities will include commissioning two projects by artists representing disability communities and increasing ongoing capacity to engage artists experiencing disabilities.

Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis, was awarded $15,000 for Cedar POPS (Privately-Owned Public Space), a project to redesign and reconstruct its outdoor property into a fully accessible public gathering space that will be used for arts events and music performance. The project will dovetail with the City of Minneapolis’ urban-renewal project to make navigation through the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood possible for people with disabilities with sidewalk and street improvements.

Minnesota Fringe Festival, Minneapolis, received $12,140. The festival proposes a three-year plan to incorporate accessibility training into its current producer workshops in order to make ASL and AD a more vital part of artists’ production process. By offering workshops on the importance of accessibility, how to communicate with patrons with disabilities and how to work with ASL interpreters and audio describers, festival organizers will develop producers who consider accessibility a core component of the production process.

People Incorporated, St. Paul, received an award for $7,400 for its Artability project. Artability provides adults with mental illness with free workshops, curled by experienced artists. Participants expand their artistic techniques and create art in multiple media. Another focus of this grant is arts learning opportunities for individuals with mental illness who are deaf or hard of hearing, by using funding to hire ASL Interpreters for 37 workshops in 2014.

Young Dance, Minneapolis, will use $4,745 to create and perform “Wild Swans.” This performance features an integrated cast of dancers, with and without disabilities. Each dance performer offers unique possibilities to contribute to the story, which will continue to build Young Dance as an integrated dance organization.

Yellow Tree Theatre, Osseo, will use $2,840 to provide ASL Interpretation for the four productions in its 2014-15 season. The theater will install and implement an ADA-compliant assisted listening device system that will be easily accessible to patrons, and allocate staff time to promote these accessible options.

Penumbra Theatre Company, St. Paul, will with its grant of $2,625 install an assistive listening system. The system will have 10 receivers to hand out to patrons that can be used with headphones or an induction loop which will work directly with certain hearing aids.

The grants were reviewed by a panel of persons active in the metro arts and disability communities. They read, discussed and ranked the applications. Their recommendations were approved by the VSA Minnesota board of directors. Eighty-three projects have been funded by this grant program since 2010, totaling $960,143. Grants up to $15,000 are available. The next deadline will be announced in early fall.

 

 

Dental clinic moves to a new location

A Faribault dental clinic that helps people with developmental disabilities has moved to better serve more clients. Southern Cities Clinic held an open house Wednesday at its new location, 400 Fourth St. NW, Faribault.

“I am excited to see that Southern Cities Clinic has a new, improved space, and is able to continue providing essential services to people with disabilities,”

Anne Barry, deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services said at the grand opening open house. “Many of our patients rely on the clinic, and would not be able to see a dentist otherwise.”

The clinic has been in the Faribault community since 1990, and today provides dental services to more than 1,000 individuals. Faced with a growing number of patients, the clinic relocated to have the capacity to meet needs of the people it serves.

Southern Cities Clinic is one of five dental clinics operated by the Department of Human Services to serve individuals with developmental disabilities, severe mental illness, and traumatic brain injury who are unable to obtain care from other providers. The clinic also provides outpatient psychiatric services.

 

 

 

New human services center opens

Hennepin County is celebrating the grand opening of its third regional human service center, at 1001 Plymouth Ave. N., Minneapolis. A ribbon-cutting celebration was held August 7.

Hennepin County human services staff members have been working at the site since late June, adjusting to a new address and a new way of business that allows clients to complete a broader needs assessment, apply for assistance and get referrals to other services, including those of local community agencies and faith groups.

The new, transit-friendly site is only one part of a larger plan to expand human services access from a concentration of offices in downtown Minneapolis, to six sites, spread across the county and closer to where residents live, work and attend school. Rather than taking time from work and school to make the trip downtown, Hennepin County clients can integrate needed visits with their financial workers and other county staff into their everyday routines.

Two other human services offices already are in operation in Brooklyn Center and Bloomington. A west suburban office in Hopkins will open in the fall. Two more locations, serving central and northeast Minneapolis and south Minneapolis, are planned for 2015 and 2016.

“It’s all about making our services accessible to people in their community,” said Rex Holzemer, assistant county administrator for human services. “It’s about intervening earlier to get people back to self-sufficiency and working closely with community partners to provide a full range of services people can benefit from.”

As part of the planning process for the human services offices last year, the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council and Hennepin County invited residents to weigh in on their wishes for the selected site through a series of engagement meetings. A community benefits agreement between the council, the county and the building’s owner, Minneapolis-based Ackerberg Group, was developed during this time also.

One of the results of the community engagement process was the addition of weekly Hennepin County service center hours, when residents can apply for a variety of licenses and permits, on the North Hub site.

 

 

 

Radio Talking Book mixes its media

Radio Talking Book and the Communication Center took a foray into the world of television this summer, with a visit by television host Rana Kamal and staff from CW23. The program and center were filmed for a segment on their program Our Issues Twin Cities. The program aired June 22 and August 3. CW23 was interested in learning of the breadth of what is offered to people at State Services for the Blind, including helping people with vision loss to learn adaptation techniques and to look for employment. CW23 filmed some of the program clients who had received assistance. To learn more about the show, go here.

 

 

State agencies win honors

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs has announced winners of its State Innovation Awards, to celebrate the creative work and projects of Minnesota state government. The awards, organized in partnership with the Bush Foundation, recognize 10 state projects for how they deliver better government services to Minnesotans.

The winners were honored August 7 at the Minnesota History Center. Two of the awards are for innovations that help people with disabilities.

“Whether it is health care, education, judicial, or social services, state government delivers a broad array of services to Minnesotans and these awards recognize those projects that are doing things significantly better,” said Jay Kiedrowski, senior fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “Minnesotans should realize that it’s not business as usual in state government; these award winners have done an exemplary job integrating innovative ideas and problem-solving techniques into their operations and we want to spread the word about their good work.”

A panel of judges considered 36 submissions for their creativity, sustainability, and collaboration. The awards were inspired by the Local Government Innovation Awards, which recognize schools, cities, and county government entities for their programs.

One award winner is Telling Your Story: An App for Public Policymaking, from the Department of Administration, Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Another award was given to the Department of Health, Office of Health Information Technology. The Minnesota e-Health Initiative was honored for its public-private collaborative to advance the use of electronic health records. Since its inception in 2004, 93% of clinics and 99% of hospitals have adopted electronic health records.