3. Identity, Disclosure, and Representation in the Arts

Where are disabled artists and administrators?

I lead an arts consortium called Bodies of Work: A Network of Disability Art and Culture in Chicago. Our mission is to support the development of work that illuminates the disability experience in imaginative and unexpected ways. As I try to network, the difficulty is literally finding trained artists with disabilities (or those who are artists who seek professional development). In my role as director, I'm often asked for curatorial advice. I recommend disabled artists whose work falls within our mission. My home field is in theater and performance. I know many of the disabled actors with MFAs. There are very few. There has to be more. How can we find and count artists with disabilities with formal training? Maybe finding a way to contact arts departments and asking them to pass along information about how to connect with the larger community and what might mean? Often younger people don't want to disclose, even if their impairment is apparent. I want to find these graduates, support their professional development, and promote them. Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts has a roster of disabled actors. Are there more? Who are we missing?

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