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Jazz for all of us, regardless of physical ability

This is one of those events that feels like it will be great fun, and that it matters. It's happening here in my town


Making Live Jazz Accessible To All People With and Without Disabilities

WHAT: JazzArtSigns, acclaimed vocalist Lisa Thorson's groundbreaking multimedia, multisensory and interactive improvised jazz performance piece for all audiences. JazzArtSigns features a group of world-class jazz musicians, an improvisational painter, American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, a live audio describer and text captioner, as well as program information in Braille, large print and on tape. What makes this event groundbreaking is that everyone involved - the band, ASL interpreters and painter - trade fours and improvise.
WHEN JazzArtSIgns Concert Thursday, March 9, 2006 at 7:30 p.m. at the Wheelock Family
/WHERE: Theatre, 200 The Riverway, Boston.

TICKETS: $20; $10 students. Voice: 617-879-2300 * TTY: 617-879-2150.

PERFORMERS: Lisa Thorson, vocals; Cercie Miller, saxophones; Doug Johnson, piano; David Clark, bass; George Schuller, drums; Nancy Ostrovsky, improvisational painter; Jody Steiner and Misha Derissaint, ASL interpreters; Vince Lombardi, audio describer; and Don DePew of The Caption Coalition.

WHY: "Access to the arts and culture is still a rarity for many people with disabilities," says VSA arts of Massachusetts' director Charlie Washburn. "Rarest of all are integrated events that make the artistic product available and accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities. JazzArtSigns is a groundbreaking event because it provides people with and without disabilities the opportunity to interact with art and music from a variety of perspectives so that they literally see, hear and feel music as it is being performed."

JazzArtSigns creator Thorson, a wheelchair user, comments on her artistic vision. "Through JazzArtSigns I hope to inspire new mainstream artistic projects that will take a holistic view of access to the arts - one where access is an element in the creative process rather than an add-on that restricts creativity. With JazzArtSigns, the ASL interpreter and painter trade fours with the band and everyone improvises. This is what makes this event so unique."

PRESENTERS: VSA arts of Massachusetts and Wheelock Family Theatre. Each organization is celebrating its 25th Anniversary Season.

WORKSHOPS VSA arts of Massachusetts is sponsoring workshops for students and presenters in jazz and painting improvisation, universal design in the arts and audience development. These will encourage community building and give everyone a look at the future of cultural access. A complete schedule of workshops will be available soon.

FUNDING: JazzArtSigns was developed in collaboration with VSA Arts of Massachusetts' National Cultural Arts Initiative with support from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). JazzArtSigns is also supported by Berklee College of Music's Faculty Fellowship Program, and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.


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