Greater New Haven Goes ARTE-Accessible

Lucy Gellman | November 25th, 2019

Greater New Haven Goes ARTE-Accessible

Connecticut Office of the Arts  |  Economic Development  |  Arts & Culture


MusicHaven - 1
Music Haven's "Discovery Orchestra" students at a recital earlier this year. Lucy Gellman File Photo. 

One museum will translate its exhibition labels, brochures, and patron surveys into three different languages. Another will add Spanish translation and large print to its wall texts, and make sure there’s sign language interpretation and ADA-accessible transportation at its events. A third will grow its programming for artists and students with disabilities.

Seven New Haven-area organizations are embarking on new accessibility initiatives with funds from the state’s second annual ARTE-accesible grant. Of sixteen overall grantees, six are located in the greater New Haven region, including three in New Haven, one in Hamden, one in Waterbury and a sixth in Guilford. The grants, which range from $1,365 to $3,000, come to a total of $43,805 across the state. A full list of amounts and projects is listed at the bottom of this article.

First launched in 2018, the ARTE-accessible grant program is administered through the Connecticut Office of the Arts, which lives under the Department of Economic and Community Development. The grant is intended to offer funding, distributed in amounts between $500 and $3,000, to arts organizations that are working to be more accessible to their publics, from didactic materials in Spanish and Farsi to reliable sign language interpretation.

In addition, the program is supportive of organizations that employ Connecticut artists with disabilities (loss of sight and loss of vision have been among the most commonly supported).

“We are thrilled to offer grants that specifically address the reduction of barriers and greater access to the arts,” wrote Tamara Dimitri, public art program specialist with the Office of the Arts, in an email Saturday. “This program not only addresses access for individuals with disabilities, it also addresses language barriers. Both years we’ve been able to support a wide range of activities from ASL interpreters, assisted listening devices, translations of gallery materials and tours into Spanish, accessibility audits and staff training, and opportunities for individuals with disabilities to work in the arts.”

“We understand how challenging it is to fund these activities and therefore we’ve made this program available to provide greater support and to raise awareness of this critical work,” she added.

In New Haven, grantees include Artspace New Haven, the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, and Music Haven. In the greater New Haven region, recipients are Hamden-based Arts For Learning Connecticut, the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, and Shoreline Arts Alliance in Guilford. Several organizations have dedicated their projects toward language access, particularly in Spanish; others are using the project funds to support arts teachers and arts students with disabilities and increase access to those with full or partial loss of hearing.

The Arts Council will be using $3,000 towards a “language assessment plan” that includes a community needs assessment, organization-wide accessibility training, potential translation of Arts Paper articles, and framework for implementation and evaluation.

Artspace New Haven, which recently brought in a team of Spanish-speaking guest curators for a temporary exhibition, will be offering more Spanish translation in its exhibitions and materials and American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation at some of its events. In addition, the organization will be providing large print production.

The Shoreline Arts Alliance, located in Guilford, will be purchasing assisted listening equipment for indoor and outdoor performances

Based in Hamden, Arts For Learning Connecticut (AFLCT) will be supporting drummer Nate Barnes, who is blind, as he partners with the nonprofit to teach several classes in the region. In the past, AFLCT has worked with Barnes and the Institute of Professional Practice (IPPI) in Hamden and Oak Hill School for the Blind in Hartford. Reached by phone Monday, AFLCT Executive Director John-Michael Parker said he is excited to continue and expand those collaborations as the organization continues its collaboration with Barnes.

“We feel really great about it,” he said. “He's an extraordinary artist.”

From New Haven’s Fair Haven neighborhood, Music Haven will be using the funds to continue translation of both materials and parent-teacher-student “triangle” meetings into Spanish (Remind 101 cell phone notifications are also sent out twice, once in English and once in Spanish) and one-on-one support in multiple languages. Currently, 36 percent of the organization’s students identify as Latino or Hispanic, up from 22 percent when Music Haven began in 2007. Twenty-one students out of the organization’s 78 come from households where the parents or guardians do not speak English.

Mandi Jackson, executive director at the organization, attributed much of that growth to Milda McClain, a full time operations manager who is bilingual and joined the organization full-time in 2015. But, Jackson added, that growth puts a strain on the organization's resources. That’s been particularly true in recent years, as “music bridge” students and parents have also needed translation from Farsi.

“Approximately 12 of our families (representing nearly 25 percent of our students) require extensive support from our staff to translate meetings with teachers, help with the enrollment process, stay informed about events and policies/procedures, and enable them to engage in providing program feedback, participate fully in discussions and volunteering, and make sure the program is accessible in every way to all families regardless of their level of English fluency,” read the grant proposal.

“I think it's really important that the Office of the Arts does put aside money for this purpose,” she said in a follow-up phone call last week. “There are so many ways to define inclusion and access, and those are at the heart of everything we do.”

Other statewide grantees include Hartford-based Cuatro Puntos, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, the Danbury Music Centre, the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Inc. and Flock Theatre in New London, Stamford’s Franklin Street Works contemporary arthouse, the Goodspeed Opera House Foundation, Inc. in East Haddam, No Boundaries Youth Theater in New Britain, Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown, and the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford.

All Projects (language supplied by the Connecticut Office of the Arts):

Arts Council of Greater New Haven, New Haven, $3,000: Develop a language access plan, includes a needs assessment, staff training, and evaluation framework.

Arts For Learning Connecticut, Hamden, $3,000: Expand engagement between an artist with a disability who provides teaching and learning with children with disabilities.

Artspace New Haven, New Haven, $2,500: To support Spanish translation, ASL services, large print production, and ADA transportation.

Cuatro Puntos, Hartford, $2,000: Provide ASL interpretation and CART live captioning of performances and rehearsals, to support participating artists who are deaf.

Danbury Music Centre, Danbury, $3,000: Engage a musician with a disability with an opportunity to mentor and provide lessons.

Eastern Connecticut Symphony, New London, $3,000: Expand Spanish language translation materials for concert performances.

Flock Theatre, New London, $3,000: ASL interpreter for outdoor summer performances.

Franklin Street Works, Stamford, $3,000: Way-finding signage, translations (ASL interpretation and Spanish language tours), access training for staff and engagement with artists with disabilities.

Goodspeed Opera House Foundation, Inc., East Haddam, $3,000: To support sensory-friendly performances and at discounted rates for individuals and their families.

Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Hartford, $3,000: ASL interpreters at the Talcott Mountain Music Festival, which is celebrating its 25th year in 2020.

Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, $1,365: Language translation of label text and surveys into three different languages. Produce large print materials.

Music Haven, New Haven, $2,750: Translation of student materials for parents with limited English, and translation of concert fliers and materials.

No Boundaries Youth Theater, New Britain, $3,000: All-inclusive theater program for youth actors with disabilities.

Oddfellows Playhouse, Middletown, $2,190: ASL interpretation of Teen Repertory performance – includes education and marketing.

Shoreline Arts Alliance, Guilford, $3,000: Acquisition of further assisted listening device equipment to support performances (including outdoor spaces).

University of St. Joseph, West Hartford, $3,000: Create an action plan identifying and addressing barriers – includes implementation, training, and evaluation.