Besides being a disabled artist, disability issues are extremely important to me. Near the age of 15, I was hired through a Summer youth employment program to work with developmentally disabled adults. My grandmother was blind, and a cousin, due to being shot nine times, underwent 56 operations and is now a double amputee.
To this day, I still grapple with having an invisible disability, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I rarely inform people that I'm disabled because most wouldn't understand, and as I have been informed I don't "look" disabled.
I propose a yearly, or quarterly, Disabled Artist Advocacy Leadership Institute (DAALI) a three-five day intensive, hands-on training that builds advocacy skills and knowledge about the role of government and public institutions in the arts field. A group of 10-15 participants could be selected to attend the DAALI in Washington, D.C., where Congressional Staff and experienced arts advocates could impart skills to enhance efforts on behalf of disabled artists and culture.
The goals of the advanced institute could:
cultivate a deeper understanding of the frameworks involved in shaping cultural policy, and its impact on disabled artistic production and social justice;
provide research and instruction on advocacy protocols and strategies;
deliver immersion training via preparatory research and assignments, instruction, site visits, and consultations; develop competencies for meaningful communication with local and state elected officials, and with national congressional representatives and staff;
build relationships and initiate dialogue with policy makers to promote understanding of the disabled arts sector’s needs while asserting the role of the arts in sustaining viable communities;
equip Fellows with the necessary tools to lead proactive efforts in their respective communities, and to deliver effective messages that will help broaden support for the arts; and,
nurture Fellows as an engaged group of active disabled arts sector advocates.
The highlights of the Disabled Artist Advocacy Leadership Institute could include, meetings with noted political leaders on Capitol Hill and members of the Congressional Caucus as well as meetings with senior staff at the National endowment for the Arts, the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Smithsonian Center.