Access Improvement Grants Announced

Dancers in Young Dance's All Abilities Dancing Program

On June 23, 2020 MRAC awarded $107,382 to 12 organizations/groups in the first year of the Access Improvement grant program. This year’s grants were reviewed by two panels and comments and scores were submitted online due to COVID-19. The Access Improvement grant projects will provide arts organizations in the Twin Cities Metro area with resources and expertise to complete projects improving access to the arts for people with disabilities. The program supports accessibility-specific capital projects and programmatic/management projects with significant potential to encourage the increased and long-term participation of people with disabilities in the arts.

These grant programs are made possible by an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the State’s general fund. Geographic listings represent the county where the arts group or organization is located.

We thank these individuals for serving on the panel for the Access Improvement grant reviews:
Alison Bergblom Johnson, Brighton McCormick, Claire Avitabile, Jaime Gjerdingen, Jenny Kinsella, Kim Peterson, Naomi Cohn, Philip Fried, Raymond Luczak, Sam Conrad, Tamra Falk, Terryann Nash, Tim Cooper, Zoë Koenig

Image is of dancers participating in Young Dance, Inc.’s All Abilities Dancing classes. Photo by Blake Nellis.

Anoka  County

Rumriver Art Center                      $6,462.00
Funding to purchase equipment to make classes and events accessible to individuals with mobility, hearing and visual disabilities and changes to make the organization’s website accessible for all PWD.

Dakota  County

Lakeville City Ballet dba Twin Cities Ballet of Minnesota                  $10,000.00
Funding to perform a sensory-friendly version of A Minnesota Nutcracker. The sensory-friendly production would modify lighting, sound, and other aspects of the performance in order to remove barriers to participation for audience members with autism and Sensory Processing Disorders.

Sounds of Hope, Ltd.                       $10,000.00
Funding to support 28 weekly singing and percussion sessions for 30-40 elders with disabilities residing at Little Sisters of the Poor in St. Paul, with audio and video sing-along recordings to be generated out of the project for use by Sounds of Hope to support future programming with elders with disabilities in other facilities.


Art Shanty Projects             $6,925.00
Funding to improve event accessibility by adding 4 kicksleds for use by visitors and artists, introducing accessible building resources for 2021 shanty artists, developing tools to gather audience and artist feedback for informing accessibility work and related outreach, updating current website and social media, and training for staff and board for ongoing digital accessibility maintenance.

Cow Tipping Press              $10,000.00
Funding to reduce the cost of creative writing classes for four organizations primarily serving people of color with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

Grace Minnesota dba Don’t You Feel It Too?                 $10,000.00
Funding to hire four consultants with disabilities to audit the Don’t You Feel It Too? (DYFIT) practice itself, five of its outdoor public practice sites, and its use of Zoom video conferencing for virtual practices. DYFIT’s team will use this audit to develop training materials for practice facilitators, update the group’s ADA Access Plan, choose future practice sites, and develop new outreach materials.

Lightning Rod                      $7,000.00
Funding for the creation and activities of an accessibility task force (aka Access Avengers) to evaluate the group’s programmatic and organizational practices and engage community partners. Following evaluation and community engagement, the Access Avengers will submit a report and recommendations to the group’s Advisory Council.

Off-Leash Area                     $10,000.00
Funding to launch a new performance program, Off-Kilter, that will support and showcase artists with disabilities, with artists with disabilities and leaders in the disability community at the center of its planning, implementation, and ongoing development.

Upstream Arts, Inc.             $10,000.00
Funding for the purchase of a robust equipment package and 3-hour on-camera training for Teaching Artists toward developing new online programs in Minneapolis from July 2020 through June 2021.

zAmya Theater Project                  $10,000.00
Funding for an integrated project to improve access systems along three key areas  – communications, services and physical space –  then evaluate and refine policies using the group’s residency at the Dorothy Day Center as the central site of investigation. The group will work with an access consultant to conduct an evaluation and establish a strategic plan for meeting access priorities in the future.

Saint Paul

Midwest Special Services, Inc.                  $6,995.00
Funding to purchase equipment (both ready-made and custom-made) to increase arts participation for those who need physical adaptations due to limited motor skills and range of motion.

Young Dance, Inc.                $10,000.00
Funding to install automatic door openers to allow people with disabilities to navigate into and through the organization’s space independently or with greater ease.

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