Over the past several months we visited and documented 20 Progressive Art Studios across the country for adults living with developmental disabilities. We’ve begun sharing writing and documentation of our research process, including in-depth overviews of these studios, photos of artwork being produced, and features of specific artists from studio on our current website ( http://disparateminds.wordpress.com).
This long-term documentary endeavor was initially inspired by the lack of awareness about and support for Progressive Art Studios by not just the general public, both other artists as well. Unfortunately, most of these programs struggle in finding long-term financial support and rely heavily on state funding. New regulations passed earlier this year by the Department of Labor will make it extremely difficult for these studios to remain operate in the same capacity or even remain open. Artists living with disabilities are most often marginalized and misunderstood, portrayed by others in a patronizing manner. These studios strive to eliminate this and should be considered a necessary component of any support system for this population; there’s no greater way for these excellent artists to achieve value and integration within their communities.
We strive to cultivate a deeper understanding of how these art programs function while highlighting shared challenges they face (in issues such as fundraising, best practices, and coping with new labor regulations) while fostering discussion between programs in favor of a more resolved and sustainable model. We intend to create an accurate, comprehensive directory of studios and raise awareness about these programs for communities and service providers throughout the country. Addressing the current climate surrounding this under-served (and already under-funded) population is essential for the viable future of these programs and more importantly, our society in general.
Funded by Awesome Without Borders (February 2015)