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THE CULTURAL ACCESS NETWORK PROJECT

The Cultural Access Network Project is a program of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and New Jersey Theatre Alliance

Tactile interpreter working with DeafBlind Community Access Network of New Jersey Board member/Vice President Mark Gasaway

About

The Cultural Access Network Project is a program of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and New Jersey Theatre Alliance. The Project provides a wide range of services and programs to assist theatres and cultural organizations in making their programs and facilities accessible to seniors and people with disabilities.

The programs of the Cultural Access Network Project are guided by a volunteer steering committee representing arts patrons, state and county officials, arts administrators, and managers from organizations serving people with disabilities.

The Cultural Access Network Project was established in 1992 to assist all of New Jersey’s cultural arts organizations in making their programs and facilities accessible to seniors and individuals with disabilities in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Cultural Access Network Project committee is comprised of individuals with specific knowledge and expertise in areas relating to accessible programming and facilities.  All of the Cultural Access Network’s programs and services are made possible by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as other corporate, foundation, and government partners.

The Cultural Access Network Project serves as a role model program for other states to follow. The program was the recipient of the 2004 National Accessibility Leadership Award from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, National Endowment for the Arts and Coca-Cola.

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Roundtables & Training

Executive Director John McEwen demonstrates looping techology

Access Thursdays

Access Thursdays are an opportunity for colleagues to get together virtually for peer-to-peer learning around specific issues related to cultural access. Individuals with knowledge and experience in a specific area will be invited to join in the discussion, and representatives from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Cultural Access Network Project committee will also participate in the discussions.

Upcoming Roundtables

A man sitting in a wheelchair speaks into a microphone while a seated woman listens

Sensitivity Training

These training sessions often include a panel of individuals with disabilities who provide guidance on how your organization can effectively communicate, offer assistance and provide a truly welcoming experience for all individuals attending your venue and participating in your activities. All staff members and volunteers are encouraged to attend, especially those that interact directly with the public (ushers, box office, concession personnel, docents, etc).

If your organization would like to offer a sensitivity training session, please contact John McEwen, Executive Director, at the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

Resources

This extensive resource library includes documents, links, and other media to support your cultural access work. Resources include:

  • Sample policies, statements, and templates
  • Sample grievance procedures
  • Training videos on using audio description, ASL, and sensory seminars at your organization
  • Links to state and county agencies
  • Tipsheets, glossaries, & more!

ADA Planning

ADA Plans are a requirement for all organizations receiving funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State. In addition, a majority of the state’s County Cultural and Heritage Commissions require a plan from their grantees. The FY23 ADA Plan Outline is available as an online form.

If your organization is required to submit an ADA plan for the current fiscal year, we encourage a staff member to attend one of our 90-minute virtual workshops for an overview of the plan requirements and submission process.  FY23 workshops will be held virtually on Tuesday, October 11th at 10:30 am and Thursday, October 13th at 1:00 pm. These workshops are ONLY open to organizations whose revised ADA plan is due to the State Council on the Arts in this grant cycle.

An organizational self-assessment, as well as sample grievance procedures, employment policies, and anti-discrimination policies, are available in the Cultural Access resource library.

Awards

Each June, the Cultural Access Network hosts the annual Excellence in Cultural Access Awards, a day-long event featuring a keynote, discussion, performances, and a luncheon. Two New Jersey-based arts or cultural organizations receive the Innovator Award, presented to a New Jersey non-profit cultural organization that has been especially creative in a specific area of arts access. Winners enjoy statewide recognition plus a $500 grant to help their organization in the advancement of cultural access. Nominations for the Innovator Awards open in March.

You can view the 2022 Awards here.

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2023 Excellence in Cultural Access Awards

This year’s awards ceremony will take place in June 2023. The date and location will be announced soon!

Access Calendar Posting Account Request

Are you an arts organization in New Jersey with an Accessible event coming up? Request access to post your event on our Calendar!

Request

Cultural Access Committee

Krystle Allen, New Jersey Commission for the Blind & Visually Impaired

Bonnie Brown, Allaire State Park

Susan Coen, Consultant

Lisa Cooney, Paper Mill Playhouse

Janet Zoubek Dickson, Educator 

Donald Ehman, Arts Advocate

Diane Feldman, Arts Advocate

Pamela Gaston, New Jersey Commission for the Blind & Visually Impaired

Maureen Heffernan, Arts Advocate/Teaching Artist

John McEwen, New Jersey Theatre Alliance

Eileen Murray, Matheny Medical and Educational Center’s Arts Access Program

Peri Nearon, MPA, Division of Disability Services, NJ Department of Human Services

Beth Prevor, New Jersey Theatre Alliance & HandsOn

Arlene Romoff, Hearing Loss Association of NJ

Cathy Roy, The Mayo Center for the Performing Arts

Michael Schnoering, FAIA, Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC

Jim Thebery, Disability Advocate

Miss Ruth Williams, Writer & Low Vision/Disability Rights  Advocate

Members Ex Officio

Allison Tratner, New Jersey State Council on the Arts

Mary Eileen Fouratt, New Jersey State Council on the Arts