Cultivating Change: The System of Access in Chicago's Art Spaces
By examining the layered network of individuals and organizations working to cultivate accessibility for people with disabilities in Chicago's art spaces, I seek to identify successful models and illuminate both the contemporary work being done as well as the history it is built upon. By asking key stakeholders-what is missing?-I will begin to map Chicago's system of access in art spaces and determine opportunities for growth in stakeholder collaboration. The primary method for this research is personal interviews, which have informed several case studies. These case studies in turn, highlight different approaches to increasing accessibility through collaborative partnership, parallel and divergent work on the same topic, and incorporating the arts into systems of living. Though no method is without its complexities, the organizations I chose to explore have generated new opportunities for disabled artists, supported arts administrators and spaces at all levels of their access journeys, and more. By looking beyond just accommodations, this paper also considers how Chicago institutions are investing in disability culture by supporting artists and developing initiatives to increase diversity. This thesis also involved an associated project, an artist talk and panel held in December 2017. The goal of the event was to provide a platform to amplify artistic voices from diverse practices and points-of-view and foster an environment in which different communities could engage in conversation around disability. Along with championing disabled artists, it is increasingly important to ensure that disability is a part of the broader conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion.