Feature Issue on Careers in The Arts for People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities

From the Editors

Ossie Davis (1917-2005), the noted Black actor and activist whose honors include the National Medal of Arts, was known for playing roles with a realism that rejected overdrawn, stereotyped characters.

“Art is a form of power,” he was widely quoted as saying. “It can not only move us, it makes us move.”

Makes us move, indeed. As this issue of Impact was being created, several major television and film studios made public pledges to include more people with disabilities in front of and behind the camera. Our issue explores the struggle for inclusion that artists with disabilities have fought and that led to these pledges. It highlights visual artists, performers, and organizations making careers in the arts a reality, but also notes that much more must be done, as people with disabilities still account for fewer than 10 percent of all arts workers. Also in this issue, you’ll hear about the vision of Leroy Moore, founder of Krip-Hop Nation, for a new cultural center in Los Angeles celebrating artists with disabilities. You’ll learn about the history of outsider art and contemplate the future of art centers in the wake of major changes to their traditional funding streams. You’ll read the personal stories or artist statements of nearly two dozen professional artists with disabilities. And, of course, you’ll see their stirring, beautiful artwork – ranging from performance and production to the visual arts. 

We hope this issue also inspires you to consider the myriad career opportunities people with disabilities can and are seizing in the arts. There are critical, non-actor roles in every theater, and creative roles in arts-adjacent industries including marketing, gaming, and technology. These roles defy stereotype, and hold promising opportunities for people with disabilities to thrive in inclusive careers in the arts. 

That is power.