My name is Sarah Muehlbauer. I am a 32 year old Crohn’s sufferer, writer, performer and artist, who wants to build community programming and career opportunities for the arts and disability cross-section. I come at this from both a healing background and fine-art emphasis.
My idea is to establish a multi-use space: One side that gives access and mentorship in crafts-based disciplines, to establish meditative skill sets in artists with disabilities that are also functional and income-generating. This side of the coin can lead to production in the craft-market that is supported through Fair Trade and other socially conscious markets.
The other side of the coin is, in this split-space, to offer movement arts that cross-over into therapeutic practice. I come at this from a background of yoga and circus arts, which have historic application for relieving anxiety and depression, and which strengthen and fortify one’s whole system. Circus arts specifically produce continual challenge and reward, urging students to heighten focus and overcome obstacles—life lesson that spill out into many areas of life.
I have had the opportunity to benefit from such skills not only because I dedicated myself to 25 years of disciplined instruction, but also because of some “help along the way” that came in the form of money and encouragement from the VSA Arts network and their “Emerging Artists with Disabilities” award.
Due to the economic issues that come with chronic illness, and the general status of the Arts in America, I am in the position of needing additional partners. I am currently located in Philadelphia, where I completed my Masters, and I have connections to teachers and therapists here to offer this program. I would also love to offer an intensive/ retreat structure as well in guest locations when the time and opportunity is right. I am open to advice on how to handle the income-generating parts of this offering to the disability community. I have thought about a structure which charges modest fees for classes to the non-disability community, and provides scholarships to those who are disabled to cover their tuition.
I would welcome any thoughts, insights, and general feedback on the concept.