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Statewide Online Calendar of Accessible Arts Programming Launched by New Jersey Theatre Alliance 

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The calendar will be searchable by specific accommodation and will feature a wide variety of offerings.

The Cultural Access Network Project, a program of New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts is pleased to announce the launch of the Cultural Access Calendar, an online portal that allows the public to find cultural events, including virtual and online events, with specific accommodations such as open captioning, ASL interpretation, and sensory-friendly adjustments. The calendar will be searchable by specific accommodation and will feature a wide variety of offerings from the state's theatre, visual art, dance, music, and museum community.

"Through a series of focus groups, we heard repeatedly from arts patrons with disabilities that there was a need in the community for one online location where all accessible offerings could be visible at a glance," said John McEwen, Executive Director of New Jersey Theatre Alliance. "It became immediately clear that the Cultural Access Network Project needed to take this on. Now, someone with hearing loss, for example, can see the dates and times of all performances in the state offering ASL interpretation or open captioning rather than combing through the websites of each individual cultural organization. We are grateful to The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, Kessler Foundation, and The Karma Foundation for their support of this audience development initiative."

The Cultural Access Calendar is live at www.njtheatrealliance.org/accessibility-calendar and patrons can browse a wide variety of upcoming accessible offerings. The calendar was slated to go live in early March of 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a hold on live events. The arts community in New Jersey quickly and effectively pivoted to offering a wide range of online and virtual offerings, many of which include accessible accommodations such as open captioning and ASL interpretation.

Diane Feldman, a member of the Alliance's Cultural Access Network Committee, reflected on how the calendar will impact her arts attendance once venues can offer performances in person again. "I am really looking forward to this new calendar," she said. "I use a wheelchair. Previously, when I wanted to go to a performance with someone who needs open captions, I have had to make several phone calls. Now I will be able to see where I can find accommodations for both of us so that we can enjoy a show together. Because all this information will be online, both of us can see the choices available for us. I can't wait to have easy access to so many options."

New Jersey Theatre Alliance has contracted Beth Prevor as Cultural Access Network Coordinator. Beth's primary responsibility will be interfacing with cultural organizations to ensure that their offerings are represented on the calendar as well as answering questions from the general public and disability community about how best to find accessible cultural events. As a person with a disability, Beth brings extensive experience in accessible arts to New Jersey Theatre Alliance. She is a co-founder and Executive Director of Hands On, an arts service organization that advocates for access to the cultural arts for the Deaf community and audiences with disabilities. In 2015 she was the recipient of the John F. Kennedy Center's Excellence in Accessibility Leadership Lifetime Achievement award.

"I've worked with John and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance on a variety of accessibility projects for many years and I've always been impressed with the leadership New Jersey has established in regards to cultural access issues," said Beth. "The Cultural Access Calendar is a wonderful project that will provide the disability community with information to become full participants in the many accessible events offered by NJ cultural arts and I'm very excited to be a part of it."

For more information on how to list an event or on how to best make use of the calendar to find performances, digital offerings, or other events that meet specific accessibility criteria please contact Beth Prevor at bprevor@njtheatrealliance.org.



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