Excellence in Cultural Access Awards June 27th at Grounds For Sculpture | New Jersey Theatre Alliance

Excellence in Cultural Access Awards June 27th at Grounds For Sculpture

  • Pushcart Players teaching artist with "Page to Stage" participants
    Pushcart Players teaching artist with "Page to Stage" participants
  •  Pushcart Players teaching artist Harry Patrick Christian with “JFK Players Onstage” in Newark
    Pushcart Players teaching artist with “JFK Players Onstage” in Newark
  • Laura Breechen, ASL interpreter, works with hearing impaired actors in a rehearsal of Skyline Theatre Companys "1000 Faces"
    Laura Breechen, ASL interpreter, works with hearing impaired actors in a rehearsal of Skyline Theatre Companys "1000 Faces"
  • A sign interpreted performance of "1000 Faces" at Skyline Theatre Company
    A sign interpreted performance of "1000 Faces" at Skyline Theatre Company
  • Robert Carr speaks at the Excellence in Cultural Access Awards at Grounds For Sculpture on June 21, 2018.
    Robert Carr speaks at the Excellence in Cultural Access Awards at Grounds For Sculpture on June 21, 2018.

(Morristown, NJ) On Thursday, June 27 the Cultural Access Network Project (CAN), a program of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and New Jersey Theatre Alliance, will host the annual Excellence in Cultural Access Awards (the Awards) at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ.

Celebrating their 11th year, the Awards are designed to recognize and support organizations and individuals whose programs, initiatives, and efforts help make the arts accessible and inclusive for individuals with disabilities, and for seniors.

Attended by leaders in the state’s arts and cultural community, the event features learning opportunities and performances as well as the awards presentation.

“The Cultural Access Network Project continues to be a leader in helping New Jersey’s arts organizations meet and exceed a standard of access, openness and innovation for people of all abilities” said Allison Tratner, Executive Director of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. “It’s wonderful to be able to gather to celebrate the work, and the people who make it happen.”

Beginning with registration, and a continental breakfast at 9:30am, the program begins at 10am. Representatives from AARP NJ will offer a presentation – Engaging the 50+ Volunteer – which will offer suggestions on ways to better engage and recruit volunteers, while also outlining ways that cultural organizations can make accommodations that will be necessary for these volunteers to do their jobs.

The awards portion of the program includes the annual Champion Award – given to leader who has made a significant contribution to the state’s cultural community, through the expansion of accessible opportunities. This year, the Champion Award will be presented to Robert Carr of Morris Plains, the former Director of Programs and Services, and ADA Coordinator with the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

"We are delighted to present Robert Carr with this year's Champion Award,” said John McEwen, Executive Director of of New Jersey Theatre Alliance. “During his time at the Alliance, Robert assisted New Jersey's cultural community by streamlining the technology for the submission of ADA plans, building a robust list of resources on the Alliance's website to assist the field in their access efforts, and helping design a wide range of educational offerings to guide the field in their access work. Robert's contribution to cultural access in New Jersey had a positive impact on New Jersey's cultural community and their patrons. "

Three organizations will be the recipients of an Innovator Award. The Innovator Award is presented to New Jersey non-profit cultural organizations that have been leaders in creating programs and/or services that support arts and/or patron access.

Eyes Like Mine, based in Newark will receive the award for the work they do to create awareness about the abilities and potential of individuals with vision loss, through community service initiatives and comprehensive empowerment workshops.

One of their projects: "Dancing with the Blind “…gives a Blind or vision impaired individual the opportunity to pair up with a sighted individual to create a dance routine that they perform together,” says Krystle Allen, President and Founder of the organization.

Pushcart Players of Verona, will also receive an Innovator Award. In their third year of a theater education residency at JFK School in Newark, Pushcart’s program is designed to use the power of theater to provide children of any background, ability, orientation, or history with methods of self-expression, and alternate pathways to learning in a safe environment.

The student body of JFK School functions on the Autism spectrum and/or have other cognitive and physical disabilities. The Pushcart residency has helped students make progress in self expression, focus, collaboration, and basic theater comprehension. Young people accustomed to self-isolating became willing participants in the liberating creation of theater. Students learned the importance of working with and for each other in a collaborative process of ensemble work. "The young learners at JFK School perform with joyful abandon in a performance for their peers and community,” says Pushcart’s Producing Artistic Director Paul Whelihan. “This is an unparalleled gift to both the actor and the audience member."

The last of the Innovator Awards will be given to Skyline Theatre Company, based in Fair Lawn. They are being recognized for developing a new musical: 1000 Faces, based on the life of film legend Lon Chaney. Chaney was born to deaf parents, and the musical takes a unique approach by incorporating deaf actors playing deaf characters.

This is being done in collaboration with Lon Chaney's Great-Grandson, Ron Chaney, who learned ASL from his Grandfather, Lon Chaney Jr., and remembers the important role ASL signing played in his family and their legacy.

“Skyline is proud to be helping to bring this wonderful story to audiences in a new and innovative way by allowing the deaf performers and audience have a full and complete experience,” says Artistic Director Sam Scalamoni.

The winners of the Innovator Awards are selected by panel review, and each winning organization receives a $500 grant to support their advancement of cultural access.

Monmouth Arts of Red Bank is receiving the County Achievement Award, which recognizes their commitment to educating their grantees about accessibility and making it an integral part of their grant making program, as well as the services they provide to their grantees.

Since its inception in 1992, CAN has facilitated accessibility among the state’s cultural community through training, workshops, a comprehensive online resource bank, and a tool that streamlines cultural organizations’ ADA planning, and reporting. CAN’s innovative programs and services have earned national recognition, and have helped to make New Jersey a model state in the cultural access field.

The Cultural Access Project is a project of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and New Jersey Theatre Alliance. Additional support of New Jersey Theatre Alliance's access initiatives is provided by The Karma Foundation, Kessler Foundation, Fund for the New Jersey Blind, E.J. Grasmann Trust, The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, and The Union Foundation.

New Jersey Theatre Alliance unites, promotes, strengthens, and cultivates New Jersey’s professional theatres. It advances the theatre community by developing innovative, collaborative, and engaging programs and services for member theatres and their diverse audiences. It also produces public programs such as the annual Stages Festival and NJArtsTix, an online discount ticket service. Its member theatres are both large and small with a wide variety of repertoires, each a fully functioning business that pays its staff and artists (designers, technicians, directors, and actors). Through their programming, these theatres inspire, challenge, and entertain about one million theatre-goers annually, and enrich communities through outreach programs and arts education. For more information, visit njtheatrealliance.org.

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