Lunch & Learn

The Lehigh Valley Arts & Cultural Alliance hosts a monthly Lunch & Learn series featuring nationally recognized guest presenters. The series focuses on art and accessibility — a pillar of our organizational mission — and aims to inform Lehigh Valley artists, art educators, arts supporters, and arts & cultural venues about ways to make the arts more accessible to all.

Events are held on Zoom unless otherwise specified. We hope you’ll join us at the next Lunch & Learn!

Upcoming Events

Out Beyond: A Conversation with Artist Michael Freeman and Maggie Mills

Guest Speakers Maggie Freeman, Cedar Crest College Art & Art Therapy Program and Michael Freeman, artist

April 17, 2024

Associate Professor of Art Maggie Mills will moderate a captivating artist talk with Michael Freeman. Together, they will explore the world of art and accessibility, showcasing Freeman’s exhibition, Out Beyond, during Cedar Crest College’s spring dance recital. Gain insight into Freeman’s process as a visually impaired artist, his advocacy for mental health, and his collaboration with Director of Dance, Sarah Carlson. Delve into the inspiration behind the project with a discussion on the Rumi poem that sparked it all. Don’t miss this opportunity to expand your horizons and participate in a transformative conversation.

The First Thing About You

Guest Speaker Chaz Hayden

May 15, 2024

Chaz Hayden is a debut author who, like his main character, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as an infant and spent his childhood in and out of hospitals. The First Thing About You, he says, is “not just about disability but about friendship and love and all the things that a young person hopes to experience.” Through his writing and his YouTube channel, he speaks with abundant positivity and encourages people to “Be different. Leave a trail.” Chaz Hayden grew up in New Jersey and now lives in Pennsylvania, where he spends too much time thinking about his next tattoo and what concerts to attend.

Chaz will read a chapter from his debut book, The First Thing About You. He chose this chapter because it is his favorite and it works well as a standalone piece. It also reveals the main character’s struggle to balance his disability and his teenage desires.

Previous Speakers

Art-Reach ACCESS Program

Guest Speaker Alex Boyle, Art-Reach

March 20, 2024

Alex Boyle, Director of Programs at Art-Reach, will be joining us to talk about the Art-Reach ACCESS Program, which allows people with disabilities or low income to visit over 80 museums, theaters, gardens and cultural sites for just $2. The program currently serves Greater Philadelphia and Delaware, and Art-Reach is excited to expand these opportunities in the Lehigh Valley! In this session, Alex will share information about how the program works, and how cultural organizations can participate.

Below The Surface: A Perspective on African American Artists and Printmaking

Guest Speaker Curlee Raven Holton

February 21, 2024

Explore the world of African American artists and printmaking with award-winning artist, printmaker, and professor, Curlee Raven Holton. Gain insight into their motivations and concerns within contemporary practices and a rich historical legacy. Discover the strategies utilized by renowned and emerging African American artists, shaping the landscape of artistic expression.

Curlee Raven Holton is a printmaker and painter whose work has been exhibited in more than fifty one-person shows, and one hundred group shows. His exhibitions have included prestigious national and international venues like Egypt’s 7th International Biennale, Taller de arts Plasticas Rufino Tamayo in Oaxaca, Mexico, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Holton’s work has been featured and written about in more than fifty publications. As part of his research and study as an artist-scholar, he has lectured and presented demonstrations throughout the United States and abroad in Mexico, the West Indies, Japan, England and Costa Rica. Holton has been an artist in residence at museums, colleges, and universities. He has presented over hundred public lectures on the subjects of his own work, African American art, and contemporary printmaking. He has written numerous articles and essays on art and artists that have been published in catalogues and journals.

Many of Holton’s artworks have been published in magazines, newspapers, and documented on television. He has received awards and grants for his creative research and artwork, which has been described as both powerful and graceful. The breadth of his visual investigations has included traditional and innovative approaches to his art making process. Holton’s mastery is demonstrated in his manipulation of diverse mediums and techniques including printmaking, drawing, painting, and bookmaking.

Transformative Public Art

Guest Speaker Jane Golden

January 17, 2024

Jane Golden has been the driving force of Mural Arts Philadelphia since its inception, overseeing its growth from a small city agency into the nation’s largest public art program. Under her direction, Mural Arts has created over 4,000 works of transformative public art. In partnership with innovative collaborators, she has developed groundbreaking and rigorous programs that employ the power of art to transform practice and policies related to youth education, restorative justice, environmental justice and behavioral health. During this Lunch & Learn presentation, you will hear about her journey and the different programs Mural Arts offers in the greater Philadelphia region and beyond.

Assistive Technology in the Arts

Guest Speaker Fatima Nabavian

November 15, 2023

Join Fatima Nabavian, Representative TechOwl-Temple University Department of Disabilities and Coordinator of Accessibility and Related Programs at Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living (LVCIL), to shed light on the innovative devices and services that enhance accessibility in the arts, making creative expression inclusive for all. Discover how assistive technology is revolutionizing the way individuals with disabilities engage with art forms and gain valuable insights from an expert in the field. Don’t miss this opportunity to broaden your understanding and celebrate the power of inclusivity in the arts!

Creative Aging

Guest Speaker Sarah House

October 18, 2023

Join Sarah House, the Program Director of Arts for the Aging, for an overview and discussion of creative aging guidelines and best practices. Learn how to create engaging and accessible art programs for older adults in your community. House will share information about Arts for the Aging programming; the health benefits of regular arts participation; and an overview of best practices for leading in-person arts programming designed to stimulate social engagement and wellness for active older adults with diverse physical and cognitive health conditions. Attendees will receive a digital copy of the Creative Aging Teaching Artist Handbook.

Accessible Theatre

Guest Speaker Larry Mason

September 20, 2023

Join us for Accessible Theatre, a lunch & learn event with Larry Mason, MFA student at Moravian University and Touchstone Theatre. Larry will share insights on how to make theatre more accessible for performers and audience members.

Larry is passionate about accessible theatre and is dedicating his independent research to disability advocacy through theatre and accessible theatre experiences. In addition to his academic work, Larry serves as the Accessibility Coordinator for the Atlanta Fringe festival, where he focuses on creating accessible festival experiences. He has been featured in an article by ARTS ATL, highlighting his contributions to making the Atlanta Fringe festival more inclusive and accessible.

This promises to be an informative session for anyone interested in promoting accessibility in the arts, whether connected to the theatre or beyond.

The Disability Pride Lehigh Valley logo is a circle filled with diagonal green and blue stripes. Disability Pride Lehigh Valley is written next to the circle in blue type.

Disability Pride Lehigh Valley Town Hall

Featuring Vicki Landers of Disability Pride PA & Hosted by the Event Planning Committee

May 17, 2023

Join us for this Town Hall style Lunch & Learn all about Disability Pride Lehigh Valley. You’ll hear updates from the organizers and planning committee, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and share ideas. We invite you to participate and help shape this amazing event!

Disability Pride Lehigh Valley takes place July 22, 2023 from 11 AM – 3 PM at Penn State Lehigh Valley. We’re working with Disability Pride PA to plan a day of community, fun, art, live music, special guests, resource tables, food trucks, and games for all ages.

A photo of Bronwen Andrea Okwesa, a Black woman with dark hair worn in a bun on top of her head and smiling at the viewer. She is wearing earrings, a necklace, and a dark red top.

Principles of Audio Description & Audio Description Careers

Guest Speaker Bronwen Andrea Okwesa

April 19, 2023

Audio description is a necessary practice central to all art forms. This presentation covered the basics of audio description, including:

• Why audio description is a necessity.
• Insights into blind and vision-impaired culture.
• Audio description guidelines, techniques, and best practices.
• How to design audio description that effectively meets the needs of blind and vision-impaired audiences.
• How to launch a career as an Audio Describer

Bronwen Andrea Okwesa is professional Audio Describer who has researched, written and narrated AD scripts in all performing arts genres, also for community-based events, museums, meetings, conferences & social media.

Alexa Heinrich looks at the camera and smiles slightly. She is a light skinned woman with dark hair shaved on the sides and worn in a topknot on top of her head. She is wearing bright red lipstick, multiple earrings, and a black shirt with gold colored necklaces on top.

Accessibility in Social Media

Guest Speaker Alexa Heinrich

March 15, 2023

Accessibility is a common priority when building websites and webpages. But have you considered how individuals with disabilities are engaging with your brand on social media? Are they experiencing accessibility barriers in your content? Are there things you could be doing to make your social media more inclusive? This session will outline practices you can easily implement to ensure the content you produce and the way you deliver it on social media is accessible for everyone, including disabled users.

Alexa Heinrich is an award-winning social media manager, the creator of the popular websites Accessible Social and Social Media Tea, and the author of Accessible Social: A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Inclusive Social Media Content.

Tyrone Russell, a Black man with short black hair and a beard, wearing a dress shirt with a tie and a red vest. He is looking directly at the camera and smiling.

DEI & The Arts

Guest Speaker Tyrone Russell

February 15, 2023

This DEI and the Arts mini workshop presented by Tyrone Russell, CEO of FACES International, will focus on the intersection of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the arts. The workshop will explore ways in which the arts can be used to promote DEI and foster a more inclusive society. Topics will include the representation of diverse communities in the arts, the role of cultural institutions in promoting DEI, and strategies for creating more inclusive arts environments. This workshop will provide participants with practical tools and resources for implementing DEI initiatives in their own organizations or communities.

Image of painted bust self-portrait depicting artist, Wendy Elliot Vandivier. White woman with shoulder red hair and small green beret on top, her hands are touching the right side of her cheek and chin. Her wrists have multiple colored medical bands. A prominent bright pink band has the word alert on it.

The Disability Arts Movement

Guest Speakers Vicki Landers & Connie Vandarakis

January 18, 2023

Join us as we discuss the history of Disability Arts and its importance in the Disability Rights Movement, and create actionable steps to bring Disability Arts to the forefront.

Our presenters for this event are Vicki Landers, Founder & Executive Director of Disability Pride PA and Connie Vandarakis, Arts & Cultural Director of Disability Pride PA.

Liz, a white woman with short hair and glasses, is shown from the shoulders up looking at the camera and smiling

What's LGBTQ about the Italian Renaissance?

Guest Speakers Liz Bradbury (she/her/hers)

November 16, 2022

A lot! After an explanatory discussion of the ingenious 15th Century invention of perspective, we’ll be discussing the controversial same gender loving lives of Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti. Why do we think these men had more than a passing interest in other men? And does it matter in their work? Let’s see! We’ll also talk about the surprising 500 year old histories of some of their key works and explore what happened to them in the 20th century to make them even more famous. This will be a fun and funny presentation by Liz Bradbury, MFA, the Director of the Training Institute of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, on things they didn’t teach you in art history classes, but really should be considered none-the-less!

Emily Ladua

Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally

Guest Speaker Emily Ladau

September 21, 2022

Celebrated disability rights advocate, speaker, and writer Emily Ladau will answer all your questions regarding disabilities. Learn how to be an informed ally to disabled people, with actionable steps for what to say and do (and what not to do) and how you can help make the world a more inclusive place.

Ladau’s Demystifying Disability is “ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR” – NPR, Booklist 

“A candid, accessible cheat sheet for anyone who wants to thoughtfully join the conversation . . . Emily makes the intimidating approachable and the complicated clear.” – Rebekah Taussig, author of Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary, Resilient, Disabled Body

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