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Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Announce Disability Futures Fellows

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The foundations will support 20 disabled creative practitioners whose work advances the cultural landscape.

Today, the Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced the Disability Futures Fellows, the recipients of an 18-month initiative administered by United States Artists that aims to increase the visibility of disabled creative practitioners across disciplines and geography and elevate their voices individually and collectively.

Through the fellowship, the foundations will support 20 disabled creative practitioners whose work advances the cultural landscape. Each fellowship includes a $50,000 grant to advance each artist's practice, totaling $1 million for the cohort overall. This fellowship is the only national, multidisciplinary award for disabled artists and creative practitioners.

Disability Futures was born out of a year-long research study that interviewed dozens of disabled artists and creative practitioners across the country to inform how Ford, Mellon, and other philanthropies can better serve disabled artists and creatives. While a philanthropic investment, Disability Futures is intentionally designed by, for, and with disabled practitioners at many levels. Disabled practitioners prompted the initiative and fellows were nominated and selected by disabled practitioners.

Through the fellowship, Ford and Mellon hope to address field-wide problems in arts and culture, journalism, and documentary film-including, a dearth of disability visibility in the cultural sector, lack of professional development opportunities accessible to disabled practitioners, and the need for a national grant program that considers the unique financial challenges of disabled artists.

"It is a privilege to recognize this array of creative professionals and lift up their contributions to the arts, journalism, and documentary film," said Margaret Morton, Director of Creativity and Free Expression at the Ford Foundation. "Artists and creatives provoke us with ideas, adorn us with beauty, and lead us to action. It is critical that we engage with disabled practitioners' perspectives and elevate their narratives. We hope that this fellowship will prompt more attention for and engagement with disability-led content, productions, and projects in the years to come."

"Institutional structures have not served disabled artists in the past," said Emil Kang, Program Director for Arts and Culture at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. "Disability Futures is the result of listening, collaboration, and humble engagement and we at Mellon are pleased to recognize and support these outstanding artists directly."

The recipients come from communities across the country, where they work as artists, activists, and educators. The Disability Futures Fellows are:

Alice Sheppard (she, her, hers)
Los Altos, CA

Carolyn Lazard (they, them, theirs)
Interdisciplinary Artist
Plymouth Meeting, PA

Eli Clare (he, him, his)
Poet, Essayist
Burlington, VT

Jen Deerinwater (Jen, Jen Deerinwater)
Journalist, Non-Fiction Creative Writer, Memoirist, & Photographer
Washington, DC

Jim LeBrecht (he, him, his)
Film Director and Producer
Berkeley, CA

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
(they, them, theirs, she, her, hers)
Writer & Performance Artist
Seattle, WA

Navild (niv) Acosta (he, him, his)
Multi Media
Dance, Music & Sound, Visual Art
Brooklyn, NY

Perel (they, them, theirs)
Performance Artist, Dancer, Choreographer, & Writer
New York, NY

Rodney Evans (he, him, his)
Brooklyn, NY

Sky Cubacub (they, them, theirs)
Garment Maker
Chicago, IL

Alice Wong (she, her, hers)
San Francisco, CA

Christine Sun Kim (she, her, hers)
Orange County, CA

Jeffrey Yasuo Mansfield (he, him, his)
Boston, MA

Jerron Herman (he, him, his)
New York, NY

John Lee Clark (he, him, his)
Hopkins, MN

Mia Mingus (she, her, hers)
Writer & Journalist
Oakland, CA

Patty Berne (she, her, hers, they, them, theirs)
Artistic Director, Filmmaker, & Writer
Berkeley, CA

Riva Lehrer (she, her, hers)
Painter & Writer
Chicago, IL

Ryan J. Haddad (he, him, his)
Playwright & Performer
New York, NY

Tourmaline (she, her, hers, they, them, theirs)
Brooklyn, NY

To learn more about the Disability Futures Fellows and their work please visit:

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