Careers in the Arts Toolkit

Collage of four photos featuring a black dancer performing onstage in an orange patterned African costume and two men behind him playing drums; a black and white photo of five black men wearing dark suits and sunglasses; a woman seated in a wheelchair instructing female dancer in a wheelchair and a woman standing beside her; a group of actors on a stage with dramatic blue lighting and projections of a woman’s face behind them

Clockwise, from top left: Dancer Sidiki Conde performing at the 2007 NEA National Heritage Fellowship concert, photo by Michael G. Stewart; Deaf West Theatre’s production of Oedipus, photo by Craig Schwartz; Mary Verdi-Fletcher works with students during Dancing Wheels’ 2019 Summer Dance Intensive, photo by Sara Lawrence-Sucato/The Dancing Wheels Company; Gospel music ensemble Blind Boys of Alabama, photo by Jim Herrington

Welcome to the Careers in the Arts Toolkit— an online resource promoting equity, access, and inclusion for people with disabilities seeking careers in the arts.

Every day, people with disabilities add significant value and talent across the spectrum of arts careers. They are performers, visual artists, teaching artists, cultural workers, administrators, and more. Yet, historically, people with disabilities have not had access to the same career opportunities as people without disabilities. Reasons for this range from inaccessible facilities to disability benefit earning limitations to misconceptions about the skills and talents of people with disabilities. Through a variety of initiatives, the National Endowment for the Arts has worked to bridge this inequity, for the benefit of not only people with disabilities, but also America’s arts institutions and their patrons.

In this spirit, the Careers in the Arts Toolkit empowers individuals with disabilities to explore arts careers and access resources to support their success. It also educates arts employers, educators, and grantmakers about the critical role they play in fostering disability inclusion and the resources available to help them successfully do so. Learn more about the toolkit.

What You’ll Find in This Toolkit:

  • Resources for Artists, Cultural Workers, and Youth with Disabilities. This section features tips on pursuing careers in the arts, best practices for obtaining the supports people with disabilities need to succeed on the job, and background on types of arts careers.

  • Resources for Arts Employers. This section explains the benefits of disability inclusion in the arts, ways for arts leaders to ensure their institution is disability inclusive, and how to take proactive steps to hire, present, cast, and advance people with disabilities in arts workplaces.  

  • Resources for Arts Educators. This section explores how arts educators can prepare students with disabilities for careers in the arts, and best practices for fostering disability inclusion within their educational institutions.

  • Resources for Arts Grantmakers. This section will help grantmakers understand their role in practicing equitable philanthropy that is inclusive of people with disabilities.

Ready to get started? Select the section that best describes you.

Additional Resources

Artist ProfilesStories of success featuring disabled artists who have established careers in a range of arts professions.

Careers in the Arts webinar series – In partnership with Art Beyond Sight, the National Endowment for the Arts hosted a series of webinars promoting careers in the arts for people with disabilities.