Theaters Recognized for Access Programs

The Guthrie Theater has been chosen by VSA arts and the Metropolitan Life Foundation to receive the 2nd Annual VSA […]

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The Guthrie Theater has been chosen by VSA arts and the Metropolitan Life Foundation to receive the 2nd Annual VSA arts/Metropolitan Life Access Innovation in the Arts Award for outstanding efforts to provide physical and programmatic accessibility to individuals with disabilities. The award was presented at a ceremony on November 11, 2000 at the World Congress and Exposition on Disabilities in Atlanta, Georgia. Guthrie Theater Audience Services Manager Pam Truesdell will accept the award for the Theater.

“We are pleased to be recognized for the work we have done in making our services accessible,” Guthrie Theater Artistic Director Joe Dowling said. “But we are even prouder of the leadership role we have taken in helping other arts organizations make their programming accessible as well.”

The Guthrie Theater has long been at the forefront of making programs and public spaces accessible to the widest possible audience. In addition to the high level of accessibility currently available to patrons, including wheelchair accessible seating, American Sign Language interpretation, an assistive listening system, audio description, sensory tours, and season materials for visually or hearing impaired patrons, the Guthrie serves as a leader in the arts community. The Theater has trained audio describers and supplies smaller arts organizations with the technology needed to provide audio description to visually impaired patrons. With its regional touring program, the Guthrie continues to work with presenters in smaller communities to make performances accessible, and has added an accessibility rider to its presenter contracts as part of its 2001 tour of Molly Sweeney.

The Guthrie Theater shares this honor with the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theater (FMCT), which is the largest nonacademic theater in North Dakota and also services a large portion of western Minnesota. FMCT’s programming has made the Theater an arts leader for the disabled. Productions such as Brian Kral’s Special Class, which has children of different abilities acting on stage and doing tech work have appealed to a wide-based audience of people of all abilities. In addition, the Theater provides patrons with assisted listening devices, Audio Descriptive services, and American Sign Language-Interpretive performances.

VSA arts is an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to artistic excellence and providing lifelong learning opportunities for children and adults with disabilities. Founded in 1974 by Jean Kennedy Smith as an affiliate of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, VSA arts offers comprehensive programs in creative writing, dance, drama, music and the visual arts. These programs are implemented through a strong network of affiliates across the United States and in 83 countries around the world. The local affiliate, VSA arts of Minnesota, advocates for quality, accessible arts experiences for and by people with all types of disabilities. It does this through art exhibits, grants for artists, an Access to Theatre & Dance program, accessibility surveys, artist residencies in schools, and information. The Executive Director is Craig Dunn.

Established in 1976, Metropolitan Life Foundation annually supports health, civic, cultural and educational activities throughout the United States. The Foundation has contributed over $165 million to organizations nationwide and annually supports several national awards in collaboration with non-profit organizations.

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