Changing Landscapes: Symposium on the Arts & Disability

Symposium to strengthen opportunities for artists with disabilities

October 30, 2009, 12:30 - 5pm
Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Symposium on the Arts and Disability

The Institute on Community Integration was proud to co-host the Symposium on the Arts & Disability to share ideas and strengthen opportunities for individuals with disabilities in the arts. This event was free and open to the public. A broad range of audiences attended, ranging from artists with and without disabilities, art curators, art teachers, disability services providers, members of the University community, and the general public from around the state of Minnesota. Participants:

  • Heard ideas for supporting and increasing involvement of individuals with disabilities in the arts
  • Learned how artists, art educators, and program directors envision increased inclusion of artists with disabilities
  • Learned of mainstream and international collaborative projects supporting artists with disabilities
  • Heard artists share about their creative process
  • Viewed artwork by artists with disabilities
  • Networked with others interested in the arts and disability

We were honored to have Tom di Maria, director of Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California, as our keynote speaker. In addition, three panels of prominent artists, educators, and programming administrators added to the discussion of ways to strengthen opportunities for artists with disabilities.

See Filmed Interviews and photos of this event.

See Agenda & Speakers for more information.

Related Events

Artwork Exhibits on U of M Campus

To accompany the symposium, the following U of M Minneapolis campus exhibits are on display for public viewing:

  • Weisman Art Museum (easel display on day of symposium), October 30, 2009
  • Quarter Gallery (Regis Center for Art), November 3-13, 2009
  • Pattee Hall (Institute on Community Integration), November through December, 2009
  • Peik Hall (Department of Curriculum & Instruction), first floor, November through December, 2009
  • Appleby Hall (The Women's Center), ground floor, November through December, 2009

Accessibility Resource

To hang exhibits with accessibility in mind, we referenced chapter 6 of the handbook, Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator's Handbook, titled Accessibility in Art and Humanities Activities (PDF). We strongly recommend others to use this document to help make access an integral part of planning and hosting activities.

Diversity Dialogues

University faculty, staff, and students engaged inr an informal discussion on the topic of Arts Education & Disability on October 29, 2009. Panelists included:

Diversity Dialogues is hosted by the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education and Human Development. For more information on Diversity Dialogues, visit the CEHD News page.

Partners & Funding

The symposium was a collaborative effort of the following University and community partners comprising the symposium planning and advisory committee:

Many thanks to our sponsors, the University of Minnesota's Imagine Fund, supported by a generous donation from the McKnight Foundation, and the Office of the Vice President and Vice Provost for Equity and Diversity at the University.

Special Thanks

In addition, we would like to thank the following:

  1. Thanks to the University's System Academic Administration for providing the seamless online registration.
  2. Thanks to University Dining Services for donating beverages for the symposium.
  3. Thanks to the University's Art Department, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, and Women's Center for exhibiting artwork.
  4. Thanks to the Department of Curriculum & Instruction for hosting the Diversity Dialogues session.
  5. Thanks to the College of Education and Human Development’s Multicultural and Diversity Committee for supporting the initiative in our inaugural year, 2007-2008.


The Institute applied for and received a small grant from the College of Education and Human Development in May 2007 to host a revolving exhibit of artwork by artists with disabilities from area community arts programs (Courage Center, Partnership Resources, Inc., and Interact Center for the Visual & Performing Arts). The purpose of this initiative was to bring staff closer to the artistic lives of people with disabilities, while also brightening our workplace and providing exposure to artists in the area. This project was so successful that it continues today - we regularly hang new art from a different set of artists in Minnesota - and it has inspired this symposium to broaden our outreach and share ideas on how better to serve artists with disabilities.

More Information

For more information, please contact Megan Dushin,, (612) 626-8649.

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