Breaking Ground 109 Arts Issue - Spring 2022


Introduction by Lauren Pearcy, Executive Director, TN Council on Developmental Disabilities

Dear readers,

It is an honor for me to write this first note in Breaking Ground as the Council’s new Executive Director. With Wanda Willis’ retirement, our team is starting a new chapter together.  A few highlights from the year, thus far, have been a staff retreat that allowed our team to reset together, our February Council meeting when we welcomed three new Governor-appointed members, and bringing on an intern from the Vanderbilt Next Steps inclusive higher education program. We are excited about the future.

As you may know from reading this magazine, the Council created a new 5-year state plan that begins this year. That plan lays out our big-picture goals and how we will meet them between now and 2026. It is based on public input from across Tennessee – your input.

Your input will continue to influence our work as we put the new plan into practice.  Please connect with us by replying to our newsletters, connecting with us on social media, or calling our office: 615-532-6615. We can connect you with our members in your communities, too. Together, it’s our job to solve problems and celebrate what’s going right in Tennessee’s disability community.

The annual Breaking Ground arts issue is one way we celebrate our community. Every year, we are blown away by the submissions. To me, it’s the truest window into our community – the way we can see each other exactly how we are inside. Too often in our community, differences in outside expression become barriers. Art shows that our differences are beautiful.

We hope you enjoy these works of art as much as we do. Let us know!

Introduction by Kim Johnson, Director of Arts Access, Tennessee Arts Commission

The year 2021 was filled with ongoing changes and surprises as we continued to live through a worldwide pandemic. Organizations that serve people with disabilities have risen above numerous challenges to reach people virtually so they can continue to experience and enjoy the arts. To accomplish this, many organizations had to rethink their use of technology to provide virtual programming. Though there were challenges, technology has proven itself as a helpful tool in reaching existing audiences, expanding audiences, and broadening the pool of artists that provide programming. For some organizations, technology helped reach across geographic and physical boundaries to allow more people to participate in arts activities.

We also saw how powerful the arts could be as a tool in helping people cope with physical and mental health-related issues with a pandemic. Many organizations found ways to address these issues by using arts programming to help people stay connected to their creativity, reduce isolation, and keep engaged in the world. To assist organizations in doing this, the Tennessee Arts Commission allowed flexibility in funding for groups to move to virtual programming. We opened grants to support creative responses to COVID-19 through the arts. And we distributed federal funding to arts organizations. We wanted to make sure that our work changed to meet the needs of people and nonprofits throughout Tennessee during the pandemic.

Again, we are grateful for this partnership with the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities and Borderless Arts Tennessee as we work together to reach people with disabilities. We look forward to moving forward in service to people in Tennessee.

Introduction by Lori Kissinger, Executive Director, Borderless Arts Tennessee

Borderless Arts Tennessee is honored to be a part of the arts edition of Breaking Ground. The arts provide a way for us to communicate our dreams. Communicating our dreams provides a path to pursuing our dreams. Pursuing our dreams leads to places beyond barriers and boundaries. We become borderless.

Thank you, Breaking Ground, for this opportunity for creating a place where the communication of dreams may begin.