Theater is a joy that should be accessible to all – and Paper Mill Playhouse is actively incorporating programs to ensure that this is a reality. On an upcoming episode of State of the Arts, learn about the theater’s Autism-Friendly performances, including one of the award-winning play Mary Poppins. These shows offer a sensory-friendly experience for those on the autism spectrum, taking lighting and sound into consideration. Our upcoming episode will also feature Leslie Fanelli’s creative drama class Theater for Everyone, highlighted in the video below. Her National Endowment for the Arts-funded classes are held weekly and focus on accessibility for her students and their families. Recently, Congressman Leonard Lance visited a class to see how children with developmental disabilities are engaging with theater through these gatherings. The Playhouse also offers other services, including Audio Description and an Assistive Listening System, to ensure that Theater truly is for Everyone.

All over New Jersey, our visual and performing arts communities are coming together to achieve inclusiveness and accessibility – a prime example of this is the Cultural Access Network Project, a collaboration between the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance. In its ninth annual Excellence in Cultural Access Awards on June 22, the project will be celebrating the great achievements made by New Jersey’s arts programs in ensuring that senior citizens and people with disabilities are actively included and able to participate in events and artistic spaces around the state.