Statewide Forums on Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities

National Endowment for the Arts

The Statewide Forums on Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities (“Statewide Forums”) program began as a result of recommendations from the 1998 National Forum on Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities convened by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). The purpose of the Statewide Forums was to identify the needs of artists with disabilities and develop a strategic plan to advance careers of artists with disabilities given the challenges and assets within each state.  Since 2002, twenty-eight state arts agencies carried out Statewide Forums. 

Beginning in 2006, support was made available to state art agencies that previously conducted a Statewide Forum to carry out Follow-up projects. The Follow-up projects were based on the identified needs, findings and/or a strategic plan from the initial Forum. Follow-up projects have included professional development workshops/trainings for artists with disabilities and/or arts organizations; traveling exhibitions; development of arts and disability website resources and directories; and artist networking meetings. Over 9000 artists with and without disabilities, service providers, arts organization staff, educators, and others working with artists with disabilities participated in Statewide Forums or Follow-up projects, and hundreds of partnerships were formed across arts and disability organizations. Participating states included: 

  • 2002: Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico
  • 2003: California, Hawaii, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Washington
  • 2004:Arkansas, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Texas
  • 2005: Arizona, Florida, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio
  • 2006-2007: Maine, Tennessee, Arkansas*, Florida*, Hawaii*, Indiana*, Minnesota*, Ohio*, Texas*, Washington*
  • 2007 -2008: Michigan, Colorado, North Dakota, Florida*, Minnesota*, Nebraska*, Texas*
  • 2008-2009: Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, Indiana*, Massachusetts*
  • 2010-2011: Connecticut*, Indiana*, Tennessee*, Texas*
  • 2012-2013: Kentucky, Maine*, Missouri*, North Dakota*, Texas*
  • 2013-2014: Alaska, Connecticut*, Kentucky*

*Denotes states that have conducted follow-up activities.

A review of the Statewide Forums program from 2002-2013 demonstrated that the Statewide Forums increased confidence, artistic skills and business/marketing skills, connections to other artists and arts employers, and led to sales or short term employment of artists with disabilities. State arts agencies discovered artists with disabilities, including those that were already part of their networks; developed new partnerships with arts and disability organizationsand increased their knowledge about the needs of artists with disabilities and how to include them in their programs. For more information on the impact of the Statewide Forums program and identified best practices read the report: "Cultivating Talent:  Improving Access to Arts Careers for Artists with Disabilities."

Cultivating Talent: Improving Access to Arts Careers for Artists with Disabilities
Forum Report: Executive Summary

The National Arts and Disability Center (NADC) is a program of the Tarjan Center at UCLA, a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. The Statewide Forums on Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities was a joint program of the NADC and NEA. For more information about the Statewide Forums program, please contact Katharine Hayward Project Director.