The following was released on Wed. Jan. 23, 2019:
Fort Wayne, Indiana – On January 23 2019, AWS Foundation announced a $2 million gift to Arts United’s A Soaring Vision campaign to create inclusivity at Arts Campus Fort Wayne. Patti Hays, CEO of AWS Foundation, made the announcement after a simulation experience of what attending the theatre is like for people with sensory disabilities.
“I would like to thank the Arts United Board and Staff for their partnership with the AWS Foundation and support of our mission to provide opportunities for everyone no matter their ability,” said Hays in the speech. “Programs such as Sensory Friendly Performances hosted by the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre and Fort Wayne Ballet in the venue are just the beginning to the types of opportunities that can be available. What if there was an arts campus where anyone of any ability could come and participate in activities and events without limitation? AWS Foundation and Arts United are committed to making that soaring vision a reality.”
Following Hays’ presentation and announcement, Board Chair of Arts United, Doug Wood responded on behalf of Arts United. “This grant supports the transformation of Arts Campus Fort Wayne as a regional hub for community, inclusivity, and accessibility,” said Wood. “Arts United is thrilled to partner with AWS Foundation in achieving this aspiration for our community. We are excited about the future of the arts and how we will contribute to the quality of life in our region.”
AWS's mission is "to help children and adults with enduring intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities live as independently as possible, be included in the community, and function at their highest potential." The investment to A Soaring Vision campaign would support the goal of Arts Campus Fort Wayne to become a fully accessible and inclusive place for people of all abilities, where individuals can participate as audience members, performers, volunteers, and employees. Part of this outcome includes ADA-compliant updates to the Louis Kahn-designed Arts United Center and facilities that suit the needs of families with individuals with sensory sensitivities.