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Arts Expedition 1: Introduction


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A Guide to Career Development Opportunities for Visual and Performing Artists with Disabilities from Tennessee Arts Commission and VSA Tennessee

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Arts Expedition 1: Introduction

  1. 1. ARTS EXPEDITION Awareness Education Experience Advocacy
  2. 2. Funding support provided by the 2
  3. 3. A Guide to Career Development Opportunities for Visual and Performing Artists with Disabilities from 3
  4. 4. WEBINAR ONE Introduction 4
  5. 5. The Tennessee Arts Commission and VSA Tennessee are partnering on this series of four webinars to provide resources, encouragement, and inspiration to artists with disabilities. At the end of each webinar, you’ll give us feedback on your experience. After you finish four webinars, and provide feedback, you’ll receive a certificate of completion. 5
  6. 6. The Tennessee Arts Commission is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences that add value to the lives of every citizen, and enhances the quality of life in Tennessee communities. 6
  7. 7. VSA Tennessee is part of an important history of equality and opportunity in the arts through a national organization created in 1974 by Jean Kennedy Smith to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in, learn through, and enjoy the arts. Formerly Very Special Arts Tennessee, the statewide organization, founded in 2001, offers a wide range of programs for varied artistic interests and abilities, with an emphasis on serving young people. 7
  8. 8. In this first webinar, you’ll be introduced to the topics to be covered in more detail later. You’ll get some tips on getting started and notes on resources which may be helpful to you. You’ll also hear from a successful professional artist with a disability. Throughout the webinar series, more artists will add their voices, giving you practical advice and inspiration. Like you, they know the challenges and the joys of pursuing a career in the arts. 8
  9. 9. First, you’ll hear from J.P. Williams, a Nashville- based performing songwriter signed to renowned publisher Major Bob Music. As a signed songwriter, he earns a living writing country pop songs. He goes into Major Bob’s every day of the work week, usually collaborating with another writer. 9
  10. 10. JP has performed everywhere from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and colleges throughout the Northeast U.S. to pubs in Ireland on assignment for Budget Travel Magazine. Along the way, he's opened for Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs and Randy Travis, to name a few. He also has taught private music lessons. JP has a music degree from University of Tennessee – Chattanooga. 10
  11. 11. “When you go into a creative field, remember that it is a business. Criticism is par for the course. You have to take the good criticism and leave behind the bad. If you want to go into a career in music, painting, acting or dance—whatever the medium of art—recognize from the start that it is a business. Don’t take things too personally.” 11
  12. 12. JP’s early musical influences included James Taylor, Garth Brooks and Billy Joel. More recently he’s found inspiration in the music of John Mayer and Keith Urban. Reflecting on his early influences and aspirations, JP says… 12
  13. 13. “It’s hard enough to be a teenager, but if you’re completely blind, that’s a tough deal. Any time you find that you have a talent in something, it’s a really good thing. In high school, I was the blind guy who showed up at the party with a guitar. Then, I’m just one of the guys. It’s always been a great way to connect with others and to find common ground with people. You get affirmation from others.” 13
  14. 14. “My voice teacher in high school was the first person who really encouraged me, outside of my family and church. She said that with a lot of practice and instruction I could get good at this and to keep plugging away at it. She took me seriously and took time out of her schedule to be supportive.” 14
  15. 15. Who are your artistic influences and inspirations? 15
  16. 16. SESSION TWO Increase Your Awareness and Identify Opportunities 16
  17. 17. Enjoy the arts. Feed your soul. Network with other artists. Become an expert on your local arts scene. 17
  18. 18. What opportunities in the arts are available to you in your own community? If you take some time to think about this, you might be surprised at the length of the list you generate. Get creative when you consider the possibilities and investigate ways to build your resume, network, and increase your visibility as an artist. 18
  19. 19. Do you have a local arts council? If so, what programs do they offer and how can you tap into them? 19
  20. 20. What’s available to you in terms of education and training? You might take a class. If you don’t have a degree, explore opportunities at local universities and community colleges. Have you explored career counseling services? The local office of the state employment commission and other organizations offer advice, programs, and career-building workshops on such topics as creating a resume and applying for jobs. 20
  21. 21. As your journey begins, it’s well worth the time to explore four important web sites. Each is rich source of ideas, programs, and inspiration. 21
  22. 22. The web site of the Tennessee Arts Commission features an overview of accessibility and inclusion initiatives, information on grants, helpful links to other resources, and listings of dozens of offerings and events. You or an arts organization in your community may be eligible for funding assistance. 22
  23. 23. Tennesseans for the Arts emphasizes advocacy and support, including a comprehensive online advocacy toolkit and links to contact information for state and local government officials. 23
  24. 24. The web site of VSA Tennessee is your portal to workshops and special activities throughout the state. Sign up to receive the newsletter for upcoming events to stay informed and network with other artists. 24
  25. 25. The Kennedy Center is the administrative home of VSA, the international network on Disability and the Arts, including the affiliate in Tennessee. Here, you’ll find a full library of resources, including a number of helpful and inspiring publications on career development. On the main page, click on “Resources” from the listing on the right side. From there, select “for artists” beneath the resources heading, also on the right side of the page. 25
  26. 26. SESSION THREE Gain Experience and Promote Yourself 26
  27. 27. Imagine the possibilities. As an artist, you have an advantage - your own imagination! Get yourself “out there.” Share your talents. 27
  28. 28. Here are just a few tips on gaining experience, which may already be a part of your career development. • Perform at your church, local nursing homes, and special events like receptions and festivals (where stipends may be available). • Volunteer to teach children or adults, including senior citizens at community centers, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes. 28
  29. 29. • Get involved in community theatre as a performing artist or designer/painter • Join a local chorus or orchestra. • Exhibit your art in places besides galleries – a community center, a business, or an arts venue. Think creatively about non-traditional locations that might be willing to show your work. 29
  30. 30. PROMOTE YOURSELF! • Pull together a great resume and portfolio. Create a biography and cover letter. Gather references. • Create a brochure about you, including photographs of your work in the visual or the performing arts. • Produce a dynamic packet to promote yourself and keep it up to date. • Your own personal promotional plan may include a web site, along with Facebook and other social media. 30
  31. 31. SESSION FOUR Advocacy 31
  32. 32. Evaluate the accessibility of arts and education facilities in your community. • If you see the need for improvements, contact key people within an organization and advocate for increased inclusion. These key people will range from community outreach and public relations staff to chief administrators. See the web site for Tennesseans for the Arts, mentioned earlier, for a comprehensive advocacy toolkit. Why is this important? • Your own personal advocacy will contribute to a cultural mindset of inclusion and accessibility for all people. Here’s an example from the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in Nashville. 32
  33. 33. TPAC is one of the most accessible arts facilities in the state with a mission to serve all of the citizens of Tennessee. In addition to seating, with companions, for people who use wheel chairs, accessible parking is designated nearby. Assisted listening devices are available. In addition to other basic services, TPAC provides, on request, personalized assistance to audience members. The accessibility overview on TPAC’s web site ( includes contact information, also available from customer service agents by telephone, 615-782-4040. 33
  34. 34. For each show in its Broadway series, TPAC provides American Sign Language and open captioning for patrons with hearing impairments, along with audio description - live narration of the action on the stage - for patrons with visual impairments. These services are offered on the first Sunday matinee of Broadway tours. 34
  35. 35. TPAC also is committed to exhibiting the visual art of people with disabilities - not something you might expect from a performing arts center. This is a great example of a non-traditional exhibit opportunity. These lobby exhibits showcase the work of Tennessee artists, increasing visibility and raising awareness about the organizations they represent. TPAC actively partners with a variety of advocacy groups on accessibility. Their feedback, advice, and promotion are vital to the success of providing services to people with disabilities. 35
  36. 36. SESSION FIVE Resources 36
  37. 37. TENNESSEE DISABILITY PATHFINDER Tennessee Disability Pathfinder is an excellent general source for people with disabilities, with listings on the regional, state and national level for a wide variety of organizations and programs. Pathfinder staff members work with individuals, guiding their search for information and resources on a wide variety of concerns. Visit the web site or call 1-800-640-4636 37
  38. 38. CENTERS FOR INDEPENDENT LIVING Centers for Independent Living (under a variety of names) offer resources and general assistance to people with disabilities. Visit this web site and click on the state of Tennessee to view offices in your area (or call Tennessee Disability Pathfinder for a recommendation). Visit the web site 38
  39. 39. This concludes the introductory webinar to Arts Expedition, a project of the Tennessee Arts Commission and VSA Arts Tennessee. Before you give feedback on this session, let’s hear again from JP Williams, who believes in the inspirational power of a dream. 39
  40. 40. “When you have a dream it helps you to get up in the morning. Whether or not you achieve that dream, you have something to look forward to. I ask myself, “What can I learn today?” That’s what kept me persevering all these years. A dream gives you direction, a trajectory, something to point yourself towards achieving.” 40
  41. 41. WHAT’S YOUR DREAM? The ultimate goal of this webinar series is to support and encourage you as you pursue a career in the arts in Tennessee. DREAM ON! Please fill out the brief questionnaire at the end of this presentation! 41
  42. 42. SPECIAL THANKS • Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, Funding Support • Christian Kissinger, Narrator • Public Consulting Group, Inc. • PCG Education, Design • Lori Ward, Script • JP Williams, Guest Artist • Always Near Recording Studio 42
  43. 43. ARTS EXPEDITION QUESTIONNAIRE Please fill out the brief questionnaire by clicking the link below! For assistance or more information, contact VSA Tennessee at or (615) 826-5252. 43