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Last week, the Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced the launch of Disability Futures—an initiative to support and enhance the visibility of disabled creatives. Under the care of United States Artists, 20 disabled creatives from across the country will be awarded an 18-month long fellowship and a grant of $50,000.
“It is critical that we engage with disabled practitioners’ perspectives and elevate their narratives,” said Margaret Morton, the Director of Creativity and Free Expression at the Ford Foundation. “We hope that this fellowship will prompt more attention for and engagement with disability-led content, productions, and projects in the years to come.”
Encompassing creative fields across the arts and culture spectrum—including journalism, documentary filmmaking, design, and performance—the program addresses the lack of opportunities and professional developments for disabled individuals, as well as financial challenges. Conceived from a year-long research study, Disability Futures has been developed by and for disabled persons, and is the first and only national multidisciplinary award for disabled creatives.
“Disability Futures is the result of listening, collaboration, and humble engagement and we at Mellon are pleased to recognize and support these outstanding artists directly,” said Emil Kang, program director for Arts and Culture at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Nominated by peers as leaders in their fields, the fellows encompass a diverse range of generations, locations, and backgrounds. As the first Disability Futures fellows, debut awardees include names like Rodney Evans, John Lee Clark, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Mia Mingus, Carolyn Lazard, Alice Wong, Jeffrey Yasuo Mansfield, Eli Clare, Jerron Herman, and Tourmaline.