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Arvada Center Receives Award for its Commitment to Programs and Facilities for People with Disabilities

ARVADA, CO – The Arvada Center has received the VSA arts/MetLife Cultural Access Award in recognition of its commitment to making the arts accessible to everyone through its facility and a variety of programming for people with disabilities.
The Arvada Center is one of two recipients of the 2001 VSA arts/MetLife Cultural Access Award for innovative programming in the performing arts category. The Center will receive a commemorative plaque and a $5,000 cash award, which will be spent on accessibility programming.
The Center’s accessibility programming includes shadow-interpreted and audio-described performances of its theater productions. All mainstage and children’s theater productions offer an audio-described performance for the blind and visually-impaired community. Audio description allows visually-impaired audience members to experience the non-verbal aspects of a live performance through verbal description. A trained audio describer speaks during pauses in the dialogues, describing such things as set design, costumes, body language, movement and facial expressions.
The Center offers shadow-interpreted performances of its spring and fall children’s theater productions and a sign language interpreted performance of the kids’ summer show. Shadowing is a dynamic method of interpreting performances for hearing-impaired audiences. Using this technique, each actor has his own “shadow” who follows him around the stage, translating the dialogue into sign language. The “shadows” are fully incorporated into the action of the play, allowing deaf audience members to watch and enjoy the show without dividing their attention between the actor and the interpreter, who is traditionally located to one side of the stage.
The Arvada Center’s fully accessible facility includes an accessible playground featuring Squiggles, a 343-foot-long“sea-saurus” whose design includes various textures that offer a tactile experience for blind children. The Center also has a TTY information line, an ADA compliant website, raised letter and Braille signs on doorways, large print programs for theater productions and sign language interpreting for classes and gallery tours. The Arvada Center facilities are fully accessible, including wheelchair accessible theater seating, picnic tables, galleries and elevators. Patrons can also participate in Arts Day programs for students with disabilities.
The accessibility programs at the Arvada Center were selected from 21 national applicants. In addition to the cash award, the Center also received a bronze plaque created by VSA arts artist Wayne Forbes entitled “Anima Rising.” The sculpture honors those who have risen above the hardships in life.
“The Arvada Center’s programs demonstrate the strong potential of technology and planning to offer the arts to millions of people, said Doris Dixon, president of VSA arts. “What’s so wonderful about the Center is that both the programs and the physical site offer easy access.”
Dixon was presented the award on Friday, April 26 before a shadow-interpreted performance of the Centers children’s theater production, Sundiata, The Lion King of Mali. Receiving the award for the Arvada Center were Mickey McVey, education director, and Kathy Kuehn, performing arts director, who have developed, managed and expanded the Center’s accessibility programming over the last 15 years.
MetLife Foundation and VSA arts joined to create VSA arts/MetLife Foundation Cultural Access Award to recognize organizations that have identified full access as a priority and are creating unique, notable, and enduring arts programming in an effort to stimulate cultural access. The award celebrates organizations that have established long-range accessibility goals and are making a commitment to accessible arts programming.
VSA arts assists people of diverse abilities in gaining equal opportunity to create, support and experience cultural arts programming. For more than 27 years, VSA arts has provided leadership in making arts accessible through its state and international affiliates including VSA arts of Colorado. For more information about VSA arts visit
The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities is the metro area’s 12th largest cultural attraction devoted to all aspects of the arts. For more information call the Arvada Center box office at 303-431-3939 or visit the Center’s website at

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