Breaking Ground 91 Arts - Introductions

Council on Developmental Disabilities, TN Arts Commission & Borderless Arts TN

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Introduction

Welcome to the 2018 Arts Issue of Breaking Ground magazine! Every year, we are delighted to feature amazing works of art from Tennessee’s artists and writers with disabilities in this special issue. We feel privileged to share the creativity and voices of Tennesseans with disabilities and their family members, including many graduates of our Partners in Policymaking™ Leadership Institute, with our Breaking Ground readership of nearly 5,000 subscribers across the state and country.

In addition to the beautiful prose, poetry, paintings, photography and other kinds of artwork in this issue, featured articles share stories about an inclusive dance class for children and their families at Ballet Memphis, a music appreciation program for teens through Chattanooga Therapeutic Recreation Services, and a community art project where artists with and without disabilities created mosaic artwork for the walls of an inclusive park in Hendersonville. We hope these stories of inclusive arts programming and initiatives happening in Tennessee will spark ideas for how your community might create more opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enjoy the arts.

We are grateful to our two co-sponsors for this special issue – the Tennessee Arts Commission and Borderless Arts Tennessee (formerly VSA Tennessee), a state organization on arts and disability. Both organizations are committed to increasing opportunities for Tennesseans with disabilities to participate in the arts, and have been sponsors of our Arts issue for a number of years. We encourage you to connect with the Arts Commission and Borderless Arts to learn more about what they do! Many thanks to the contributors to the Arts Issue and to the readers of Breaking Ground!

- Wanda Willis, Executive Director, Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities

Tennessee Arts Commission Introduction

Accessibility in the arts is about increasing opportunities for every age group to participate in arts programming/activities. Here at the Tennessee Arts Commission, we share that commitment with the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities and Borderless Arts Tennessee. 

To better serve the needs of older adults throughout Tennessee in 2017-18, the Tennessee Arts Commission partnered with fellow Tennessee Livability Collaborative members – the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability - to create a new state-wide initiative, Creative Aging Tennessee. Through this initiative, one-time seed money is specifically targeting older adults to increase participation in arts programming regardless of income, geography, and/or ability. 

Numerous studies have shown that participation in the arts provides excellent outcomes to improve health and wellness; create lifelong learning and engagement; connect older adults to their communities; and help to change perceptions about aging. What better way is there to improve cognitive functioning and reduce isolation than for older adults to participate in a theater production? Or, change perceptions about aging and disability through an arts-based, multi-generational program involving older adults and youth? These are just some of the nineteen (19) Creative Aging programs that were funded through this initiative. Visit our website at for more information. 

The Tennessee Arts Commission is proud to be a co-sponsor of Breaking Ground Arts Issue with the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities and Borderless Arts Tennessee, as we work to ensure that all people have an opportunity to participate and engage in the arts.

-  Kim Johnson, Director of Arts Access

Borderless Arts Tennessee Introduction

Borderless Arts Tennessee (formerly VSA Tennessee) is honored to once again partner with the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities on the special Arts edition of Breaking Ground magazine. Borderless Arts Tennessee is a statewide organization that works to promote educational curriculum, creative expression, career development, and community engagement through inclusive and accessible arts programs for people with disabilities. The opportunity to partner with the Council on Developmental Disabilities on the Breaking Ground Arts edition fits precisely into our mission as it showcases the artistic talents of people with disabilities across the state.  

- Lori Kissinger, Executive Director