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Beyond Inclusion – The Art of Accessible Content
Episode 55
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Beyond Inclusion – The Art of Accessible Content

CI to Eye with Lisa Niedermeyer

This episode is hosted by Erik Gensler.

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IN THIS EPISODE

Lisa and Erik talk about why it's important to have meaningful cultural experiences centered around disability. They also discuss how venues can create "joy equity" experiences and how digital experiences should be compatible with assistive technologies.

Erik Gensler: Lisa, thank you so much for being here.

Lisa Niedermeyer: My pleasure.

Erik Gensler: This is definitely an area where I feel like I have a lot to learn and I feel like I don’t have the vocabulary and I’m gonna potentially say something wrong, but I wanted to have you here because I imagine a lot of people in our field may feel this way and I want this to really provide a resource to push people further along the continuum in this area.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Absolutely. Part of why I was excited to be invited, Erik, is that Capacity Interactive is very much thinking about entrepreneurial and what’s next and ahead of the curve, so I think it’s actually very on-brand for you to be thinking about this from that aspect, and not necessarily the compliance or, you know, how do we sort of fix it, but like where’s the party happening where the creativity and innovation and entrepreneurial aspect is happening? So, yeah. How would you know all the answers to that? It’s new space. (laughs)

Erik Gensler: That’s really cool. Tell me what you mean about how this is entrepreneurial.

Lisa Niedermeyer: So, I think it’s helpful to think of different versions of the conversation around inclusion and disability are happening. So, there’s one conversation that’s happening that’s really around the legal imperative, right? What does the American for Disabilities act require by law and that conversation, which is really around compliance and what does that look like and how do we enforce that? Really, that’s, like, one conversation is compliance. That is an important conversation. It’s not necessarily the conversation I want to have with you. A lot of people are having that conversation and are experts in that. Another aspect of the conversation is the moral imperative. Do we want to be in a society that includes people with disabilities? Yes, we do. What does that look like? How do we get there? And it’s a lot of “how” questions, right? And that’s interpretive. Very important conversation. That is one framing. The one that is the entrepreneurial and creative is, what future are we creating, right? What’s the cultural imperative? What do we want humanity to look like? When we extrapolate out these choices from the moral and legal imperative, what does that look like for the world? So, that’s a different space. That’s a different conversation. I’d actually love to hear you articulate that in your own words, cause you had said, “I’m not sure about language and this is new,” and I feel like, you know, language language, so in me saying, like, “Here’s the legal imperative, here’s the moral imperative, and here’s the opportunity for culture, how would you say that without saying what I said?

Erik Gensler: I think it’s like, how do we reframe this in a way that makes this not about just following the law that was passed, but really, how do you move this to a way of thinking that will encourage people to do this because A) it’s the right thing to do, and B) it’s better for society, it’s better for their organization ,and it’s an exciting path forward to think about and shake things up, and it’s not … No one wants to comply with a law, but-

Lisa Niedermeyer: It doesn’t work.

Erik Gensler: (laughs)

Lisa Niedermeyer: People, you know … It’s been the law for a long time, right?

Erik Gensler: Right.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Like, it’s … It doesn’t mean, like, magically overnight, it’s being followed, right? It’s not enough. Yeah. Look at all these people you’re excluding, whereas this population has ways of being and thinking and approaching joy equity—and you’ll hear me use that word a lot—versus inclusion or, to use a metaphor, if you sort of put a ramp on a building, right? Somebody has access. They may not be able to join with their friends or enter the building with their lover. It’s not necessarily a designed equitable experience and particularly in the hospitality business, which is what the arts is. We’re bringing people together in real time, in real space, to have a community and cultural experience. We’re in the hospitality business. So, are we sort of throwing a ramp on something or are we creating a joy equity experience? So, as a metaphor, you know, I’ll continue to use that through this conversation when we talk about specifics. Recognizing that we are currently creating—and over and over and over again—segregated experiences in our theaters. So, what does it look like to not be segregated based on disability? That’s the creativity and the innovation in the approach.

Erik Gensler: Break that down. Explain what you mean by a segregated experience.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah, so think about where the accessible seating is in a theater, right? It’s often in the back. It’s not necessarily designed where, like, a whole group of people could come, right? Or they’re not the best seats. They are very few, so to give a very dramatic alternative to that, when Kinetic Light performs, the first two rows of seats are taken out. That’s the fan seating. That’s wheelchair seating. (laughs) It’s flexible. We take notes on if people can and want to transfer.

Erik Gensler: What does that mean?

Lisa Niedermeyer: Transfer from a chair into a theater seat and recognizing that that’s a choice, especially cause we always sell out, so we want to fit as many people in as possible. But I think that segregated experiences are where people are placed, how they enter, right?

Erik Gensler: Yeah, talk about that.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah, and I can give an example of someplace where we were on tour where the accessible entrance was actually backstage and the way the front-of-house team approached it was really kind of, like, “Let’s sneak you in from the side quickly and then the house manager actually needs to get back to their job,” so kind of, like, babysit you, get you to your seat, and then go.

Erik Gensler: Segregated.

Lisa Niedermeyer: And I was like, “Yeah, that’s not gonna work. Let’s make this feel like this is VIP fan entrance. Let’s make it super intentional. Let’s put head shots of the dancers and in the elevator that takes you backstage. Let’s make it intentional.” Didn’t cost any money. It was just a different approach to the pathway to get to that space and, probably more importantly, it was the front-of-house team recognizing this is a different way of the hospitality. The path of that, it has a different intention.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

Lisa Niedermeyer: And my role is different.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. That’s what you mean by the creative.

Lisa Niedermeyer: It’s totally creative, yeah. Yeah.

Erik Gensler: That’s really cool.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: Yeah, I mean, I just think of, like, going to a Broadway theater, which is hard to navigate as an able-bodied person, and then you just think about the staircase down to the bathroom, the narrow entrance into the theater, the tiny lobby. I can imagine it’s so unpleasant that someone in a chair probably wouldn’t want to go.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Or wouldn’t want to come back, right? So much of our business is about, “I come back and I bring my friends and I bring my lover and I bring my family.”

Erik Gensler: Oh, 100%. The flywheel.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah, yeah. So … And what is the cost of losing that audience member on that experience of hospitality? A lot of people, and especially in arts, have great intentions. They don’t imagine it as an exclusive experience, but when you look at the full spectrum of humanity and ways of being, it is. You know, every time you record a post-show talk and you publish it without captions or subtitles, that’s an exclusive media publish. It’s against the law, I t’s against the moral imperative, and it’s also not effective marketing and promotion. It just isn’t. It’s ineffective.

Erik Gensler: So, let’s talk about the accessibility of digital experiences like websites and social media. It’s funny, since you and I first had a conversation, I was talking with some arts marketers and they are working on a new website and they brought in a team to help them with this and they said, “Okay, now I want you to navigate your phone using your elbows.”I thought that was such a fascinating way of building empathy and understanding.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Hmm. Interesting. Okay, so there’s two things I want to say about that. One is I have learned from activists in the disability arts community to be cautious of simulation experiences and the reason why is, in an ableist world, we assume it’s going to be negative. We assume the challenge. So, if you put somebody who’s never been in a wheeled embodiment, in a wheelchair and say, “Go navigate the world. Come back and design something.” They’re likely to only have negative experiences, right? They haven’t learned the pleasure of the wheel or vibration or being within an inch of somebody as you zoom by them, right? Like, that’s not gonna be their masterful wheeled embodiment experience. It’s only gonna be negative, likely, right? And then they’re designing from that place. So, similar, in a simulation of how to explore the internet, you’re gonna only think of the challenges and not of the opportunities of what navigating the internet in a different embodiment allows, right? There could be all sorts of efficiencies or expression or just things that you wouldn’t imagine, cause you’re not actually coming from that lived experience. So, it’s both, right? There are real challenges. Like, if you can’t buy the ticket because your assistive technology does not see the ticket sale, right? That’s a challenge. And I’m gonna keep bringing that up, obviously, right? There’s the challenge and the opportunity. We spend a lot of time focusing on the challenges and because we don’t focus on the opportunity, people don’t fall in love with this.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Lisa Niedermeyer: It feels like a check-box.

Erik Gensler: Work.

Lisa Niedermeyer: A rule, or, like, I’m already … I’m already spending this much time editing a video. Now, I need to spend this much time?

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lisa Niedermeyer: Whereas I’m like, all right. Let’s talk about video skills and art and storytelling and what does it mean to use all of the senses in your storytelling? And then I get a video editor being like, “Huh, okay. Well, yeah, that’s why I got into it in the first place.” So, what does that look like in this wave of all different ways of being and making media that is really impactful? Then, it’s interesting. Then, it’s sexy. Then, it’s fun and it’s not like you need to have all of these things tacked on once your video is done. It’s like, no. You need to fall in love with making video all over again and reaching as many people as possible with your storytelling.

Erik Gensler: I feel like I have to redo all of my questions. (laughs) No, I mean, it’s exciting, cause, right. We don’t want to, I don’t want to ask the questions, so, like, what are the three boxes we have to check to make this accessible? If I’m hearing you right, it’s not the way to think about it. It’s like, “Okay, we know this is important. How, from a place of excitement and creativity can we rethink how we’re telling our digital stories?”

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yes!

Erik Gensler: Can we rethink our website? Can we rethink our social media?

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah, and that’s the entrepreneurial space-

Erik Gensler: Right.

Lisa Niedermeyer: … is, like, there isn’t a “perfectly right” way to do this, so what is our approach to this?

Erik Gensler: Cool.

Lisa Niedermeyer: And what does it mean to signal out values that we’re even trying, right? That we’re even, like, transparently moving in that direction? For the digital space, the really helpful grounding for people who have been through these experiences before is recognizing, before mobile, for example, we had all of our websites and they were working just fine, and then mobile hit and we were like, “Oh, great.” The mobile user cannot experience my content, cannot buy my ticket, cannot see me, cannot engage with me, and we had to figure that out. SEO, right, was like, “Oh, right. How we get found is by, like, playing the SEO game.” This is like infrastructure level thing that is really just about how the pipes are connected, what fields are being filled. You know, it’s very much a infrastructure thing. It’s not a content thing. It’s the same with assistive technology and people with disabilities being able to engage with your digital platforms. So, very similarly, like, fundamentally arts marketers, is the infrastructure of your digital communications communicating with assistive technologies? That is one question. Right. Separate from content being meaningful or connecting or being exclusive versus inclusive.

Erik Gensler: If you did have to think about some organizations that are good models for this, I find that that is really helpful for people if they can look to leaders in this space.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Brave and willing to be transparent because it is a process. It is a journey. I will definitely give a shout out to Gibney and I’m gonna tell a story that Simi Linton, who’s an activist and author, shared. We do a lot of programming at Gibney for disability arts. They’ve been very ahead and willing to learn and model in that space, so there is actually currently a separate entrance at Gibney for people with disabilities and there’s a long story as to why and they’re actually building an elevator to change that so that dancers can actually enter together, equitably, from the front entrance of the studio. My story is when we enter—and I actually am sent to a different entrance than Alice, who is the choreographer and artistic director and dancer, right? We’re actually separated to go up to rehearsal or to perform. Simi Linton, who’s an activist and author and comes to a lot of our events, she’s a power chair user. So, she’s been coming in through that entrance for a couple years now in terms of all the different programming and one of the security guards said, “Have a great class, Simi.” And she tells that story because it’s the cultural change, regardless of the fact that they’re still trying to change the two entrances, that the security guard recognized that she might be a dancer, that she is a dancer, that she’s going to the dance studio or she’s going to the dance performance. Like, that cultural shift, that’s the juice, right? Like, that’s it right there. (laughs)

Erik Gensler: Wow. How did that happen?

Lisa Niedermeyer: Through Gibney having programming, programming and people showing up and the marketing and if you see in the posters and you see people coming into the building, yeah. That’s what’s happening. Those are dancers. Those are dance creators and that’s … that makes sense, of course.

Erik Gensler: It’s in the culture.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah. And Simi’s actually … she’s not a professional dancer, but that’s not the point of the story.

Erik Gensler: Ah.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Right? It’s like, “Have a great class.”

Erik Gensler: It’s amazing.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah. You’re headed to dance class.

Erik Gensler: That’s so amazing. Could you define joy equity?

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah. I’ll give you an example. So, imagine you’re in a shared performance and the person that is sitting next to you, who is your friend, is blind and you’re both enjoying the show and it’s actually a comedy, so you’re experiencing the performance in one way and they’re experiencing it in another and there’s a moment where there’s this huge punch line and everybody in the audience laughs and then four seconds later, your friend laughs because their audio description track was actually behind and they don’t share in that laughter. Or, even worse, they don’t laugh at all because the audio description wasn’t done in a funny way that actually aligned with that beat of the art, right? It was just sort of like, “And then this happens.” So that is access, right? Your friend has access to the content, but you’re not sharing it, the experience. So, a joy equity version of that would be, even though you’re experiencing basically different interfaces of the same art, you’re able to collectively have that moment of laughter or swooning, right? (laughs) If it’s something that’s, like, a love story or, you know, whatever it is, that there are different ways of the senses being stimulated in terms of the art experience, but the impact of it is shared simultaneously.

Erik Gensler: Mm. I can see how something like that has to go across all departments cause that’s from the experience of coming into the theater to what’s going on on the stage, to … yeah. That’s bringing in the programming and the artistic piece. Yeah.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And the process, you know, for me, I’m always about the “how.” The “how,” I just … I think that’s the creator in me and I think entrepreneurs think about the “how” a lot, as well, cause it’s not just what do we get at the end. It’s like, what do we get from the process that can have other value?

Erik Gensler: Yeah, this is blowing my mind cause this is not where I thought this conversation was gonna go. I thought this was gonna be a checklist, which is totally not what this is, and I think this is fascinating and I hope people who are listening get this same response. It’s like, you’re not gonna get better at this by a checklist. You’re gonna get better at this by a frame of mind and bringing your culture along.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah, yeah. We’ve had checklists for a long time. They’ve moved us forward to an extent, but I don’t know that they’re … Actually, I know that they’re not going to get us to the party, to the future. The checklists aren’t. I left the dance field and very clearly pivoted to the technology sector and then being introduced in particular to Alice Sheppard’s thinking and her vision of the future and her version of how we create the future in terms of disability art, the rigor and creativity required has such universal value and that was very, very appealing to me and I think that is a different approach … I mean, it just isn’t a checklist. It’s 360. It’s holistic. It’s immersive. And it is a lot about reframing. Reframing what the process feels like to not know and to iterate and try to make progress.

Erik Gensler: So, I understand Kinetic Light is developing Audimance, an app that takes the audio narration for dance to entirely new level. I’d love to hear more about that.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yes. So, a lot of people are not familiar with audio description, so I’m gonna give, sort of, an example where Broadway more often is offering audio description for blind or low-vision audience members. I believe it was Hamilton was sued for not having it because fans really wanted to have that experience and there was enough demand to say, like, “We want audio description of Hamilton.” There’s enough people that want that. That’s not happening for dance, right? (laughs) People aren’t saying, “We demand this. We want this.” However, what we’re doing with Audimance is imagining a joy equity experience of audio description that all of the art forms can learn from. So, in the world where audio description right now is a separate channel that is broadcast to the audience and there is either a live or a recorded description of the visuals of the show that are in between whatever narration you might hear or music you might hear, that it’s an additional channel of description of the visual. What we’re imagining is three different things that make that different from what currently exists. One is that the audience member has a choice of what to listen to. There isn’t just one track of description. In the way that a sighted audience member can choose where you’re looking or what you’re focusing on and what’s interesting to you about the show, that there is choice for a blind or low-vision audience member in terms of audio tracks. The other is what those audio tracks actually are.So, when you give choice, what are the different approaches to audio description? What does it mean to sonify dance? What does it mean to have an audio experience of the visual of dance, of the expression of movement or of the composition, right? That’s a whole new artistic expression of it, right?

Erik Gensler: The options are huge. It reminds me of when you go to Jacob’s Pillow and they put that insert in your playbill that shows all the ways that you can interpret or think about what you’re seeing from, and you could look at it from, like, a historical perspective-

Lisa Niedermeyer: Mm.

Erik Gensler: … or a sociological perspective. There’s so many ways to look at dance, so how do you do one track of narration about that?

Lisa Niedermeyer: Right. Right, right. So, Audimance is offering choice, it’s offering different approaches to content, and then the third is the synced experience. So you asked me before about joy equity and I gave the example of, like, the laughter happens and then you get, like, maybe a laugh, sort of later, right?

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lisa Niedermeyer: This synced experience with Audimance is an important part of what we’re offering, not that there aren’t other apps that sync, but in terms of how we’re envisioning it, it’s that shared community experience where the content has been designed and the technology syncing has been designed so that we’re having a communal experience-

Erik Gensler: Wow.

Lisa Niedermeyer: … even though we’re experiencing the art in different ways. And it does require really treating it as its’ own art form, but the audio track is not a ramp put on the building. The Audimance experience is its’ own artistic experience. It is an equitable experience. You would want to pay for a ticket to have it. It’s not designed as a radio play version of the dance that you would listen at home. It is designed for you to come into the theater and, and experience together.

Erik Gensler: And how do you envision that being deployed?

Lisa Niedermeyer: It is being designed as an open source so that it won’t just be us imagining what the future of that looks like, but our stake in it is as artists, how can we really model the vision of what is possible of all the different things you could do to it so that when people get in there and like, “Well we want to play with this piece,” or, “We want to play with this piece.”

Erik Gensler: Is this something that you would start rolling out with your performances and then … It’s not like a big ballet company can just take this and slap it onto their performances.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Oh.

Erik Gensler: They have to-

Lisa Niedermeyer: … Please don’t do that. (laughs)

Erik Gensler: Exactly, you have to get engaged with this and see it through that as a creative endeavor to enhance your performances, not as an add-on just to slap onto what you’re already doing.

Lisa Niedermeyer: When I answered, like, “Oh, we’re gonna open source it,” it’s a little bit of a flippant answer, because that is not enough.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Lisa Niedermeyer: If people actually aren’t thinking about content in a different way, it doesn’t matter. It’s those two things together that make it a compelling experience. And so, who’s creating that content? Who are the vocal performers who are doing audio description? What is that training? What is that pipeline? And then, also, the demand for it.

Erik Gensler: Totally.

Lisa Niedermeyer: There’s a little bit of a chicken and an egg thing of as artists, we’re saying, “This is an amazing experience. This is what it could be,” to influence it happening at that level and then really building the demand for it. For film, there’s certainly a demand. There … I’m gonna actually get- suggest a podcast for your listeners called “Reid My Mind,” R-E-I-D. It’s T. Reid, who is a blind podcaster and is a connoisseur of audio description-

Erik Gensler: Mm.

Lisa Niedermeyer: … and was just so ready for Black Panther’s audio description. Like, just couldn’t wait. Like everybody else, like, couldn’t wait for the film to come out and audio description is a little bit more common in the film space. They have the dollar amounts where compliance is at risk, right? (laughs) If they’re really not incompliant with the law around that … and wrote a very, rightfully so, critical review of how off the mark culturally, in terms of fan base, the audio description was for Black Panther and what a missed opportunity it was for, for audience and fans and money, quite frankly, in terms of that content experience of the film not being anything close to what the actual film was doing in culture and actually, the opposite, hurting your fan base in terms of how characters are described.

Erik Gensler: I mean, we now live in a world where everything is just so fueled by word of mouth and if you do it well, it’s going to grow and so, I imagine if organizations are doing this well, people will talk about it and-

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: … they will grow accordingly, so …

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah. I do love … There’s a lot of startups in this space because when the ADA overnight was applied to digital space, right? (laughs) Was like, “Oh, it’s not just physical spaces. It’s all of our digital spaces that also need to be equitably accessed by humanity.” A lot of startups had popped up in that sort of access-accountability space and one of my favorites is Accessible 360, in part because they’re very smart about the signaling of an organization doing this work. So, they have a badging system that shows if your website is currently in review or is being monitored. You are working with an access accountability partner in terms of making your website accessible, learning, having it monitored ongoing. So, even if you haven’t perfected it, cause it’s an ongoing process-

Erik Gensler: Right. That’s so smart.

Lisa Niedermeyer: … you don’t just automatically … Right? You don’t just automatically make your website mobile friendly. That’s a process. So-

Erik Gensler: It’s an indicator that you care-

Lisa Niedermeyer: Correct.

Erik Gensler: … and you’re working on it and it’s a recognition that things don’t happen overnight.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Correct. Correct.

Erik Gensler: I love that.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah. Yeah.

Erik Gensler: It’s very cool.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah. So, very smart for them as a startup who are competing in this space and they’re also … one of the co-founders is disabled, so that is a … makes a big difference in terms of how they’re approaching it and they hire live disabled user testers, so it’s not an automated check. So, if anybody within your listeners’ organizations are doing automated checks, it’s not quality. It’s not gonna get you where you want to go. So, what does the access of that look like? And very often, an access accountability partner will just do the website, right? Anything that’s third party is not audited. It’s treated as separate.

Erik Gensler: Like e-mails and social or, yeah.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah, but guess what? Your audience, it’s not separate. It’s all the same thing. It’s all of your brand. It’s all of your hospitality. The door is either open or it’s not. The video is either inclusive or it’s not. So, there’s not a distinction on that end. (laughs) So, it behooves you to also know that and to do that and to not include it if it’s exclusive. I mean, that’s always an option. Don’t put it on the website if it’s exclusive. Use something that is inclusive.

Erik Gensler: So, we’re not gonna have the conversation about words and checklists and rules and it’s … now I understand why and I appreciate that.

Lisa Niedermeyer: When artists and activists are leading the conversation of what’s possible, that’s when we get to open hearts and minds to even giving a damn, quite frankly. Right? Because the educational content, the history, the definitions, they’re all there. They’ve been there for a long time. People are not gonna pay attention, absorb them, and take the risk of being vulnerable and putting them into action unless they’ve had a meaningful cultural experience and that’s why and activists leading this is the juice.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. Start with why.

Lisa Niedermeyer: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: And not just approaching it as, like, something I need to check off my list.

Lisa Niedermeyer: And it’s not an intellectual exercise. We get to this in the arts a lot where we’re gonna have a panel about it and we’re gonna have a symposium about it and we’re gonna have a brainstorm session about it, but if we haven’t had a meaningful cultural experience around diversity or around disability as celebrated in community and aesthetic, we actually don’t know what we’re talking about. (laughs)

Erik Gensler: Right. Right, right. This is 2.0, I think, but maybe it’s 1.0, which could, then, the other stuff is kind of 2.0. Okay, let’s get the excitement. Let’s get the why. Let’s get the culture and then doing these things that feel checklist-y are just, like, a part of a bigger vision that we’re gonna bring along, but that’s not what’s driving it.

Lisa Niedermeyer: And there are certainly spaces where this has been figured out, so if you’re coming from an ableist organization, it’s like, “Oh my gosh. I never thought of this.” But if you’re coming from deep within the community where the innovation and the ways of being and the aesthetic and the culture is a given, it’s like, “Yeah. Welcome to the party.” Like, this is what it’s like to … This is what true diversity is like when there’s joy equity. What I really just invite listeners to do is to ask for, how can I have a meaningful cultural experience that’s centered in disability in my community? Ask that question of your board members. Ask that question of your staff. Ask that question of your audience members that are coming to something and see where it leads in your own community.

Erik Gensler: Yeah, and it can flow from there. Well, this has been very eye-opening. I’ve learned a lot and we’ve come to your last question, which is your “CI to Eye moment” and the question is, if you can broadcast to the executive directors, leadership teams, staff and boards of a thousand arts organizations, what advice would you provide to help them improve their businesses?

Lisa Niedermeyer: Recognize that you’re currently exclusive and segregated. Just have that moment of recognition. By intention or not, you are and so stop making excuses for that and recognize the opportunity to imagine beyond inclusion to joy equity. That’s the juice. That’s the party I’m inviting you to join. (laughs) And celebrate within the field the rigor and the innovation that path offers. I’ll add, consider sending your staff or yourself as professional development to have a disability- centered experience of hospitality. Put it in your budget to come see Kinetic Light on tour and have a cultural immersion experience of that, of what the future could look like within your organization.

Erik Gensler: Thank you.


About Our Guests
Lisa Niedermeyer
Lisa Niedermeyer
Producing Director, Disability Dance Works

Lisa Niedermeyer is the Producing Director for Disability Dance Works, a production company founded by disabled dancer Alice Sheppard to launch art experiences at the intersection of disability, technology, and design.

Read more

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Decolonizing Classical Music

Join us as we journey deep into the world of classical music—how we define it, how we enjoy it, and how we ensure everyone feels welcome and represented in our concert halls. This conversation is just the start of breaking down barriers to attendance and ensuring classical arts organizations connect with audiences for generations to come.

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