This study is focused on the nexus of disability and dance, represents both a commitment by Dance/NYC and a call to action to advance equity in the arts and culture sector in the metropolitan New York City area. The data-driven findings, while limited by the availability of sources, suggest key opportunities for the dance community, both dance practitioners and supporters, to increase equity – from expanding dance making with disabled artists and enhancing dance instruction for disabled public school children to growing engagement with disabled audiences.
The report features learning from Dance/NYC’s Disability. Dance. Artistry. Fund, established with leadership support from the Ford Foundation and additional support from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, and from complementary activity supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Engaging Dance Audiences administered by Dance/USA and made possible with the generous funding of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; and the National Endowment for the Arts. The study surfaces key opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, the dance makers found New York City newly brimming with opportunity for disability arts, spurred in part by a growing advocacy movement, engaged government leadership, an expanding pool of interested funders, and effective promotion and program development furthered by Dance/NYC and partners such as the Disability/Arts/NYC Task Force. On the other, participants experienced significant barriers to successful performances, from inaccessible facilities and transportation options to extreme financial demands placed on disabled touring artists and subtleties of audience engagement.
In preparation of AXIS Dance Company’s 30th anniversary, we developed a national platform to explore the Future of Physically Integrated Dance in the USA with key colleagues and “activators” across this country.
We know that physical access in the performing arts for people with disabilities has improved, largely due to passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. But important advances have not been made in the level of artistry or opportunities for disabled dancers. In order to advance the field of physically integrated dance and thus equity for people with disabilities in dance, the artistry has to improve.
The report that follows shares the highlights from our 2+ year journey teasing possibilities for growth within the field of integrated dance, through research, a national convening and subsequent regional town halls, while exploring how integrated dance can continue to inform the broader trajectory of American contemporary dance.