The mission of PEP is to increase the participation and professional development of performance artists and theatre workers from under-represented groups, especially those with disabilities. PEP promotes integrated, accessible, and affordable classes, programs, training materials and other opportunities to improve the skill level of participants and to facilitate productive, collaborative working relationships with theatre workers from all experience levels, both disabled and non-disabled. PEP strongly emphasizes the need to promote accessibility for both artists and audience members. By encouraging diversity we hope to enrich both the quality of performance work and the theatre community itself. PEP serves as a national model of inclusion, with projects and materials designed to be easily replicated.

History of PEP

PEP was born in 1997 at a conference sponsored by The Association for Theater Accessibility (ATA). Three people met at that conference: Rica Anderson from Theater Bay Area (TBA), Deborah Cullinan from Intersection for the Arts, and Pamela Walker from The National Arts and Disability Center (NADC). Pamela also had her company, Talent Bridge, an arm being a talent agency for performers with disabilities in the Bay Area. These three people left the conference full of ideas and networked often over the next few years. Liane Yasumoto, Executive Director of The Corporation on Disabilities and Telecommunication (CDT) and board member of ATA, was added to the PEP mix. The PEP networking became formalized in 1999 after an attempt to find performers with disabilities for a production at the Magic Theatre. Disabled and non-disabled performers were auditioned over 2 full days. Not only was the disparity in professionalism extremely evident, but also there were less performers with disabilities cast than could have been if the pool been larger and more competitive.


Disability Focus

Since people with disabilities (PWDs) encounter many barriers to integrating into the theatre industry, attention will especially be paid to recruiting and providing support to PWDs. Some obstacles to integrating people with disabilities into theatre work include transportation barriers, financial barriers, social barriers, lack of understanding the need to develop one’s craft, disability related needs, fear, isolation, lack of information (i.e. about accessible workshops), and internalized oppression (i.e. that being an artist is not an option if one is disabled).

Examples of Gaps

Other Notes

For additional information on PEP productions, please contact us at [email protected].

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