Artworks! at Carnegie Hall
A Writer's Journey
New State Arts Plan
Writing West Virginian
New Resource for Video Artists
ArtWorks! At Carnegie Hall
By Christi Clemons-Rodgers, education director
Margaret Mead, one of America’s foremost anthropologists, so very eloquently stated, “If we are to achieve a richer culture, we must weave one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.” It is in this spirit that Carnegie Hall developed ArtWorks!, an initiative promoting diversity through inclusion, opportunity and education in the arts.
The arts are a language all people can speak. The arts cut across racial, cultural, social, educational and economic barriers. The arts provide a means for everyone to learn by opening avenues for creative expression, creative thinking, problem solving and exercising higher-order thinking skills. The arts develop both independence and collaboration while improving self-esteem and self-confidence. Equal opportunity for everyone to appreciate the arts is fundamental. For these reasons and many more, the arts provide a world of opportunities for people of all abilities to benefit from and contribute to the cultural and economic life of every community.
Carnegie Hall works with Open Doors Inc., a community agency serving people with developmental disabilities, to implement this initiative and to demonstrate the capacity for the arts to empower people of all abilities. ArtWorks! serves as a example of how improved coordination among agencies and systems can successfully reduce barriers to service and integrate people with developmental disabilities into the arts community.
With initial funding provided by the West Virginia Developmental Disabilities Council, ArtWorks! was developed and piloted over a three-year period at Carnegie Hall. In this short period of time, the initiative engaged Open Doors consumers in a variety of integrated educational, employment and cultural activities including art classes, performances, our film series and museum exhibits. Consumer participation was coordinated through Open Doors staff and financial support of fees associated with participating in Carnegie Hall events was provided through grant funding. Two supported employment positions were established and successfully filled by Open Doors consumers. In addition, ArtWorks! participants became active in community service through Carnegie Hall’s volunteer program.
While implementing the ArtWorks! initiative has been incredibly rewarding, it has not been without significant challenges. Community, audience and consumer education stand out as perhaps the most significant challenge. Carnegie Hall and Open Doors have held closely our commitment to truly integrate people with developmental disabilities into existing cultural opportunities and have exercised diligence in avoiding the pitfalls of developing special programs for “special people.” In so doing, we have challenged community members to embrace human diversity in ways that many have never before fully considered. Many have accepted the challenge with open arms and great enthusiasm, yet there is much work to be done to educate those who have difficulty wholly supporting true inclusion.
For more information, call Carnegie Hall at 304-645-7917 or visit the website: www.carnegiehallwv.com.