Lehigh University Art Galleries (LUAG) has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) to support professional development programs for educators and teaching artists that focus on engaging and including diverse audiences in arts and cultural spaces.
A $10,000 NEA Challenge America award will support a full-day educator symposium titled, "Reaching & Teaching Diverse Perspectives Through Art." This grant is one of 262 Challenge America awards totaling $2.62 million that were announced by the NEA as part of its first round of fiscal year 2023 grants. The $25,000 from a PCA Serving Audiences with Disabilities Grant will fund "Arts/Culture: Building an Inclusive Community in the Arts" grant will provide resources and sustained support over a three-year period for a cohort of arts professionals in the Lehigh Valley committed to advancing access for people with disabilities in community programs and spaces. LUAG was selected as one of seven finalists out of 55 applicants.
Together these grants will help LUAG broaden the spectrum of how people engage with art and the transformative experiences that can take place in arts and cultural spaces. These programs are designed to introduce audiences to divergent thinking, critical inquiry, and active looking. They also foster civic engagement, and give a voice to underserved communities by providing a creative and safe space for individuals to view, discuss, and address difficult community and world issues, and to develop innovative solutions.
“Experiences with art can help us form new perspectives, actively listen to others’ points of view, and think critically about contemporary issues,” says William Crow, LUAG's director and professor of practice in museum studies in the department of art, architecture, and design. “We are committed to supporting educators across our community so that learners of all ages and abilities can engage deeply with ideas and with one another.”
“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities nationwide,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “Projects such as this one with Lehigh University Art Galleries strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy.”
LUAG’s hope is that repeated opportunities and experiences to engage arts and culture professionals together will foster a sense of camaraderie in the work, forming a “cohort” in the Lehigh Valley arts community that can support one another in the work of accessibility and the impact of utilizing art as a tool in the pursuit of educational equity.