Paper Mill Playhouse Receives John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts 2009 Excellence in Accessibility Leadership Award

Monday, August 3, 2009; Posted: 05:08 PM – by BWW News Desk

Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee-Artistic Director, Mark W. Jones-Executive Director) is the 2009 Excellence in Accessibility Leadership Award Winner. The award will be presented in Washington, D.C. at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts during the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) conference, on August 15, 2009. The Excellence in Accessibility Leadership Award is in recognition of Paper Mill Playhouse‘s long-standing commitment to accessibility in the cultural arts for people with disabilities and older adults.

“We’re delighted that Paper Mill Playhouse‘s visionary work will be honored on August 15,” said Mark W. Jones, Executive Director. “Michael Mooney, Manager of Outreach and Access, will represent Paper Mill Playhouse and receive the recognition due for his diligent and inspired work that placed Paper Mill Playhouse at the forefront of cultural arts access.”

Paper Mill Playhouse was chosen from a diverse group of nominees for sustaining accessibility over a significant period of time and demonstrating an institutional commitment to the inclusion of all people with disabilities. Paper Mill Playhouse annually provides infra-red assistive listening devices to more than 5,000 patrons; 20 audio-described performances; 9 sign-interpreted and open-captioned performances; utilizing the services of 60 interpreters, American Sign Language (ASL) directors, captioners, and audio-describers; 125 Braille and 600 large print programs; and sign-interpreting and audio-description upon request for On-School Time and Weekend Family Series Performances, among other services.

Paper Mill’s production of The Miracle Worker in the 2007-2008 season was the first time the entire scope of access programming was featured on press opening night. The classic drama that explores the themes of accessibility and communication showcased a pre-show sensory seminar, sign-language interpretation, open-captioning, audio-description, Braille programs and large print programs along with Paper Mill’s ongoing access services. James and the Giant Peach, a Paper Mill On-School Time show, integrated hearing impaired and deaf actors, and featured both sign-language and spoken dialogue.

Paper Mill Playhouse is also the 2009 MetLife National Award Winner for Innovation and Excellence in Access. In 2003, Paper Mill received the MetLife/VSA Award for Innovation in Access presented at the Kennedy Center during the Leadership and Education in Arts and Disability conference. “As one of the first theaters in the nation to offer a full array of access services, Paper Mill Playhouse‘s mission ensures the theater’s programs and productions are inclusive and accessible to all, regardless of disability or economic constraint,” said Mark S. Hoebee, Artistic Director.

Paper Mill Playhouse, a not-for-profit arts organization, is one of the country’s leading regional theatres. Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, A Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional major support is provided by generous contributions from numerous corporations, foundations, and individuals. Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of Theatre Communications Group, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

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