March 12, 2014

Journeys of Inclusion, Celebrations of Success: Pathways to Access and Inclusion in Arts Education

Reading Time:   3 mins

By Lauren Jacobs

On Thursday and Friday February 27th & 28th, 2014, the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable featured a comprehensive and engaging program on Access and Inclusion in Arts Education hosted by Roundabout Theatre Company.  The presenters were Diane Nutting, Director of Access & Inclusion, and Mia Branco, Access Coordinator, both of Imagination Stage (Bethesda, MD), under a contract with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Office of Accessibility and VSA.

Thursday’s workshop, which garnered over 40 attendees, was geared toward Teaching Artists, and Friday’s session, which welcomed over 35 attendees, was aimed toward Administrators.  The diverse groups of attendees on both days included those who work in arts courses, afterschool programs, in-school residency work and arts integration programs; with early childhood, elementary, middle school and high school populations; focusing on theatre, dance, music, visual art and digital art forms. Organizations represented at the event included: Lincoln Center Education, Alvin Ailey, Symphony Space, Town Hall, Brooklyn Arts Council, NYSATE, BAM, The Armory, NY City Center, The Metropolitan Opera Guild, Theatre for a New Audience, The New Victory Theatre, Julliard, Broadway Bound Kids and a diverse range of other arts education organizations.

On Thursday, the program addressed setting up an inclusive classroom environment, scaffolding curriculum, supporting positive behavior and communicating with stakeholders. Friday’s program offered additional discussion about inclusion philosophy and infrastructures within an organization that can support inclusive best practices. At the close of each day’s workshop, the facilitators provided structures for discussion and reflection among teaching artists and administrators within their own organizations; these included questions about programming priorities, goals & challenges, and ideas for moving forward.

During both days, the facilitators delivered an empowering and positive message: Inclusion is a journey, not a destination; everyone is capable of facilitating inclusive work in arts education; and, while every day in inclusive education may not be “unicorns and rainbows,” it is imperative to continually celebrate successes!


Facilitators’ Email Addresses

Diane Nutting:

Director of Access and Inclusion – Imagination Stage; expert on inclusion within drama and theatre for youth—both  public performance accessibility and inclusive arts education

Mia Branco:

Access Coordinator – Imagination Stage; theatre arts educator, inclusion facilitator and professional development leader

Other Organizational Resources

Kids Included Together

National Inclusion Project

Inclusive Schools Network

I am Norm

TDF Accessibility Programs

Imagination Stage