Ford, Mellon foundations announce Disability Futures Fellows

Ford, Mellon foundations announce Disability Futures Fellows

The Ford Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have announced the inaugural class of Disability Futures Fellows.

Administered by United States Artists, the multidisciplinary award program is aimed at increasing the visibility and elevating the voices of disabled artists and creative practitioners, both individually and collectively. To that end, grants of $50,000 were awarded to twenty fellows whose work contributes to the cultural landscape. Designed by, for, and with disabled practitioners after a year-long study, the initiative seeks to address problems in arts and culture, journalism, and documentary film — including a dearth of disability visibility in the cultural sector, lack of professional development opportunities accessible to disabled practitioners, and the need for a national grant program that considers the unique financial challenges of disabled artists.

Nominated and selected by disabled practitioners, the fellows include Navild Acosta, a multimedia artist and activist who builds immersive work centering the intersecting identities of Blackness, transness, queerness, and disability; Radical Visibility Zine editor and garment maker Sky Cubacub, whose Rebirth Garments line offers wearables for the full spectrum of gender, size, and ability; Jen Deerinwater, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and journalist, creative nonfiction writer, memoirist, and photographer; multimedia artist Christine Sun Kim; filmmaker, sound designer and mixer, author,  and disability rights activist James LeBrecht; and choreographer Alice Sheppard, founder and artistic director of Kinetic Light, a project-based ensemble working at the intersections of disability, dance, design, identity, and technology.

"Artists and creatives provoke us with ideas, adorn us with beauty, and lead us to action," said Margaret Morton, director of creativity and free expression at the Ford Foundation. "It is critical that we engage with disabled practitioners' perspectives and elevate their narratives. We hope that this fellowship will prompt more attention for and engagement with disability-led content, productions, and projects in the years to come."

For a complete list of this year's  Disability Futures Fellows, see the Ford Foundation website.

"Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announce Disability Futures Fellows." Ford Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation press release 10/14/2020. "Disability Futures Fellows." Ford Foundation web page 10/14/2020.