New Jersey State Council on the Arts (“The Arts Council”) and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance (“The Alliance”), congratulate the 2022 Cultural Access Awards recipients with a day of learning and celebration on June 30, 2022.
“The Council has been proud to partner with New Jersey Theatre Alliance to support this important work,” said Mary Eileen Fouratt, Access Coordinator at the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. “Since the launch of the Cultural Access Network Project, New Jersey’s cultural organizations and artists have made enormous strides in creating inclusive events and opportunities for people with disabilities. We’re honored to celebrate a milestone 30th Anniversary for the Network as well as this year’s Awards recipients. Their work to create a more inclusive arts community for all has been so vital, especially these last two years, and we applaud their creativity and innovation.”
The recipients are part of the Cultural Access Network Project (CAN), which was formed 30 years ago. CAN provides a wide range of services and programs to assist theatres and cultural organizations in making their programs and facilities accessible to seniors and people with disabilities. The program is guided by a volunteer steering committee representing arts patrons, state and county officials, arts administrators, and managers from organizations serving people with disabilities.
“This year’s award recipients exemplify what it means to be accessible to all. Their programs are role models for all and put cultural accessibility at the forefront of their organization,” says John McEwen, Executive Director of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance. “We are proud to award them for all of their hard work.”
Recipients are awarded based on their work in accessibility and offering equality and opportunity for all individuals with disabilities.
Awards recipients include:
LEADERSHIP AWARD - New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired
"It is a tremendous honor for the Commission to be recognized for our efforts to promote accessibility and inclusion for people who are blind, deaf-blind and visually impaired,” said Dr. Bernice Davis, Executive Director of the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a division of the NJ State Department of Human Services. "We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to establish and maintain a results-yielding partnership with the Cultural Access Network over many years, and we look forward to continuing to serve as a resource in support of the very important work that they do."
INNOVATOR AWARD - DeafBlind Community Access Network of New Jersey, Inc.
“We’re humbled and honored to be recognized by the Cultural Access Network for our work in creating accessible film. Feeling Through was especially unique to our community because for the first time ever, a deafblind actor was cast in a leading role, and some people in our community knew him. Plus, the film is set on the streets of New York City, which many of them know, and so it was excitingly familiar. Our community wanted to see this film, and with their guidance, insights, and feedback, we adapted the film to a version accessible to deafblind people on a virtual platform,” says Katherine Gabry, President/Board of Trustees of the DeafBlind Community Access Network of New Jersey, Inc.
CHAMPION AWARD AND FEATURED PERFORMER - Kaleigh Brendle
“I feel so honored that you have chosen me as the recipient of this prestigious award. Advocating for blind and visually impaired students is an immense privilege, and I am beyond grateful that I have been able to undertake the task of defending our rights. The blind and visually impaired people all around me continue to inspire me with their resilience, compassion, and courage in the face of adversity. Being a part of this community, and being able to ensure that everyone in it receives the accommodations they deserve, is a blessing,” says Kaleigh Brendle.
Winners will enjoy statewide recognition plus a $1,000 grant for the Leadership Award recipient and a $500 grant for the Innovator Award recipients to help their organization or an organization of their choice in the advancement of cultural access.
This year’s awards will also provide an opportunity to meet with leaders in the field to discuss best practices of marketing and engaging audiences with disabilities.
Founded in 1981, New Jersey Theatre Alliance was the first statewide service organization for professional, not-for-profit theatre companies in the United States, and is a leader in developing model programs that unite, promote, strengthen, and cultivate professional theatre in New Jersey. Funding for the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a not-for-profit organization, is provided in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, and contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations including Amazon, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Grunin Foundation, The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Bank of America, City National Bank, The Shubert Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Investors Bank, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, Kessler Foundation, The F.M. Kirby Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, and The Union Foundation.
The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, created in 1966, is a division of the NJ Department of State. The Council was established to encourage and foster public interest in the arts; enlarge public and private resources devoted to the arts; promote freedom of expression in the arts; and facilitate the inclusion of art in every public building in New Jersey. The Council receives direct appropriations from the State of New Jersey through a dedicated, renewable Hotel/Motel Occupancy fee, as well as competitive grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.