Rocco Landesman to Present 2012 National Accessibility Leadership Award to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts

Arts Council acknowledged for exceptional leadership in arts accessibility

Washington D.C. -- Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), will present the 2012 National Accessibility Leadership Award to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) on October 5, 2012 at the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) annual conference in Washington, DC. Sponsored by the NEA and NASAA, the National Accessibility Leadership Award recognizes exceptional initiatives or programs that make the arts accessible and inclusive for older adults and individuals with disabilities. The award comes with a $25,000 grant.

Among the PCA’s  accomplishments:

  • Since 2005, PCA has partnered with VSA Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts to increase the accessibility of cultural events and facilities through the Pennsylvania Cultural Access Program. 
  • Together, they have provided open captioning and audio description at PCA's Governor's Awards for the Arts in Pennsylvania, provided American Sign Language interpretation of its Poetry Out Loud competition, included artists with disabilities on its funding panels, and developed a statewide strategic plan including focus groups and meetings across the state to assess the state's access and inclusion.

With this award, PCA through its Pennsylvania Cultural Access Program will:

  • Address the barriers identified in the above focus groups by working with disabilities leaders in four regions -- Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lancaster/York, and the Lehigh Valley -- to develop regional cultural access programs.  PCA will be joined in this effort by other partners including the Governor’s Advisory Committee on People with Disabilities.
  • Purchase audio description and captioning equipment for cultural organizations to share; train staff members and volunteers at cultural organizations to use the equipment and provide competent accessibility services; and help promote accessible art programs to the community. 

Rocco Landesman said, "I congratulate Executive Director Phillip Horn and his colleagues at the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts for their commitment to better understanding the needs of Pennsylvania's residents and for working diligently to remove physical, social, and cultural barriers that discourage people from participating in the arts. I am proud that the NEA is able to invest in this work and help extend it even further."

NASAA CEO Jonathan Katz said, "State arts agencies exist to help ensure everyone has access to the arts, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is a stellar example of how that is done well. This award acknowledges the Council's efforts to include all its state’s residents and provides resources that will enable the Council and its very effective partners to advance their work."

The NEA and NASAA established the National Accessibility Leadership Award in 2001. Previous National Accessibility Leadership Award recipients are the North Carolina Arts Council (2010), Indiana Arts Commission (2009), Florida Division of Cultural Affairs (2008), the Minnesota State Arts Board (2007), the Maine Arts Commission (2006), the Massachusetts Cultural Council (2005), the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (2004), the New York State Council on the Arts (2003), the Ohio Arts Council (2002), and the Arizona Commission on the Arts (2001).

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA

The NEA has several features on the Art Works blog that highlight people and projects engaged in accessibility work including:

Art Talk with Anita Hollander

Create and Relate

Is Art the Fountain of Youth: A Wrap Up on NEA/NSF/NIH conference on arts and aging

The NEA Office of Accessibility provides advocacy and technical assistance to encourage accessibility in arts programming for older adults, veterans, people with disabilities, and people who live in institutions. The Accessibility office works with Arts Endowment staff, grant panels, and grantees to make NEA-supported arts programs fully accessible. The office also convenes panels and seminars and initiates cooperative projects with other federal agencies and nonprofit organizations to better educate professionals serving older adults and people with disabilities. Information about the NEA Accessibility Office and its programs and publications is available at

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies is the membership organization of the nation's state and jurisdictional arts agencies. The public sector plays a unique and essential role in ensuring that the benefits of the arts accrue to all American communities. State arts agencies broaden citizen access to the arts in every corner of the country, making the cultural, civic, educational, and economic benefits of the arts an essential ingredient of state policy and practice.


Sally Gifford