The Art of Voice and Choice Initiative

Upstream Arts is launching The Art of Voice and Choice, a creative response to the changing disability landscape. As recent legislative changes impact individuals with disabilities and the service providers who support them, we introduce The Art of Voice and Choice, an Upstream Arts residency that uses the arts to support individuals to lead their most self-determined lives through Person-Centered Thinking and Informed Choice.

Teaching Artists and a Participant practice weight sharing and risk in The Art of Voice and Choice.

Teaching Artists and Participants practice taking risks and self-advocacy in The Art of Voice and Choice.

This spring we will carry out 12 residencies of The Art of Voice and Choice with 6 of our disability partner organizations. This will include provider-specific trainings with each and culminate with a creative problem-solving think tank where disability service providers and individuals with disabilities, alongside Upstream Arts, will convene to discuss best practices and creatively share across the field. It’s an incredible opportunity to bring together providers and individuals who otherwise rarely have the chance to delve into system-wide conversations.

 “My biggest take away from the Voice and Choice program was the way the clients opened up with their feelings, likes, dislikes and most of all their dreams. I was amazed! I have known many of them for years and never really knew what their dream job was. I saw participants learn how to express themselves more effectively.” -Disability support staff, from the evaluation of The Art of Voice and Choice pilot

In The Art of Voice and Choice, individuals with disabilities and service providers practice and learn side by side, giving space for people with disabilities to recognize and express their own needs, strengths, and interests, and for staff to gain strategies for supporting self-determination.

As one staff member said, “This is not only about art, but also about inclusion on a local and societal level, in all areas of life.” We’re excited for the powerful impact of these simultaneous residencies, trainings, and convening. In fact, we’ve deemed this entire year “The Year of Voice and Choice” to celebrate the power of making our own decisions, taking center stage in our own lives, and being seen, heard, and supported.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to continue to hear stories of voice and choice and to get information about the convening on June 20,2019.


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund, St. Paul Foundation, F.R. Bigelow Foundation, and by a generous sponsorship from Bush Foundation.

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