3Arts Expands Disability Culture Leadership Initiative

3Arts, the Chicago-based nonprofit, today announced the four dance and theater artists added to its Disability Culture Leadership Initiative, an online platform that elevates the work of Deaf and disabled artists and encourages the arts and culture sector to prioritize disability culture in programming. and organizational efforts. The new featured artists are Brian Balcom (director), Tsehaye Geralyn Hébert (playwright), Willyum LaBeija (dancer) and Robby Lee Williams (dancer).

All artists are recent alumni of the 3Arts/Bodies of Work Residency Fellowships, a program focused on creating new work, professional development, and advocacy for disability arts and culture. Following their fellowship periods, alumni are invited to participate in video-recorded conversations to document their work, experiences, and evolving dialogues on the aesthetics of disability.

DCLI’s newly enhanced website now features six insightful and candid video conversations on a range of topics, including “Creating Spaces of Belonging” and “Inclusive and Introspective Theatre.” The videos featuring the four new artists are hosted by Anita Gonzalez, disability culture advocate, professor of performing arts and African American studies at Georgetown University and co-founder of the Racial Justice Institute.

DCLI’s web presence has been expanded since its launch in 2021, with all videos updated to include full written transcripts, making content more accessible and better optimized for search engines and ultimately elevating these artists even further. . New DCLI videos, accessibility resources and participating artist profiles are now available at www.3arts.org/disability-culture.

“3Arts is proud to add four stellar artists to our growing platform and to share and celebrate the dynamic work of artists at the forefront of the disability arts and culture movement,” said the Executive Director. of 3Arts, Esther Grisham Grimm. “This web platform is more than a resource for the field. It reflects an ever-expanding network of Deaf and disabled artists in Chicago who support each other through and beyond their art, and we look forward to working closely with them as they continue to raise the bar each year.”

The launch of DCLI in 2021 stems from work that began seven years ago, when 3Arts partnered with Bodies of Work – a network of artists and organizations whose art reflects the aesthetics and l disability experience – to establish the 3Arts residency grants. The program was designed to create audiences and opportunities for Deaf and disabled artists in the Chicago metro area and beyond. 3Arts has worked closely with the Bodies of Work Consortium to develop the scholarships and establish this new disability culture leadership initiative. Bodies of Work is co-directed by Carrie Sandahl (Professor in the Department of Disability & Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago) and Sandie Yi (Assistant Professor in the Department of Art Therapy & Counseling at the School of Art Institute of Chicago, and Program Director of the Disability Culture Activism Lab), with additional partnerships with Access Living and UIC’s Disability Cultural Center.

In addition to the four new performers, the other eleven program alumni featured on the website include: dancers Ginger Lane and Kris Lenzo; theater practitioners Michael Herzovi, Arlene Malinowski and Robert Schleifer; sound artist Andy Slater; multidisciplinary artists Matt Bodett and Reveca Torres; and visual artists Riva Lehrer, Mariam Paré and Pooja Pittie. Their video interviews were hosted by filmmaker and disability advocate Justin Cooper.

The DCLI and the 3Arts/Bodies of Work Residency Fellowships are programs of 3Arts and are supported in part by grants from the Art Works Fund, the Joyce Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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