Alexis Wilner

Thanks to the gracious funds provided by the Crown Award, this past summer I was able to attend the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability in Boston, led by the Kennedy Center. The conference’s combination of workshops, lectures, and networking gave me access to brilliant new resources for my honors thesis. The connections I made while in person have also allowed me to conduct qualitative research remotely, giving me a new understanding of the practicality behind inclusive initiatives. Under the advisement of disability studies and inclusive education scholar, Dr. Christine Ashby, I look forward to continuing my research on initiatives for disabled theater artists to pursue careers in non-performance disciplines. Through the publication and dissemination of my work, I hope for more organizations and government agencies to enact accessible practices that will assist disabled theatre artists in these endeavors.

One thing I was surprised about regarding my trip to Boston was the amount of accessibility initiatives based in Boston. Knowing that The Kennedy Center is based in DC and that the LEAD conference bounces around from city to city each year, I was not expecting there to be so many disability-centered organizations based in the greater Boston area. It was incredible to see so many organizations attend the conference, not only offering to share their services with others but also representing the city in which LEAD was being hosted this year. This experience is a key element of my research for my honors thesis, the inclusion of disabled theatre artists in non-performance disciplines. Upon finishing my research paper for my thesis, I hope to publish my work in renowned industry journals, such as American Theatre Magazine, HowlRound Theatre Commons, and Disability Studies Quarterly.

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