FreshWater: FRONT Triennial wins Ohio Museums Association’s Best Community Partnership award

Mar. 28, 2023

FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, the free, public art exhibition that takes place across Northeast Ohio every three years, last week received the 2022 Best Community Partnership award from the Ohio Museums Association (OMA) for its collaborative initiative to open access to the FRONT Triennial to people of all abilities.

The award was presented to the FRONT Triennial during OMA’s annual conference in Newark, Ohio on Sunday, March 26.

Anchored through partnerships with the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities (Cuyahoga DD), Art Therapy Studio, and Clovernook Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired in Cincinnati, FRONT created an accessible exhibition experience at the FRONT PNC Exhibition Hub—including exhibiting work by artists with disabilities, introducing adaptive tools for audience engagement, and developing inclusive programming for visitors of all abilities.

“We could not have achieved this without significant support from community partners who are dedicated to accessibility work, said FRONT deputy director Sarah Spinner Liska in a statement. “We are proud of what we accomplished together, and we also recognize that there is still so much more to do to make contemporary art accessible to all.”

Titled “Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows,” FRONT’s second edition triennial ran from July 16 through Oct. 2 last summer and embraced art as an agent of transformation, a mode of healing, and a therapeutic process. The triennial was centered at the FRONT PNC Exhibition Hub at the Transformer Station in Ohio City.

At the exhibition hub, FRONT partnered with Art Therapy Studio, the oldest independent art herapy center in the country, to showcase the work of local artists with disabilities and to present a series of inclusive therapeutic art workshops that illuminated the positive effects of artmaking for healing and wellness.

“FRONT was an enthusiastic, receptive, and responsible partner, listening to accessibility concerns, and more importantly, acting on these concerns,” said Art Therapy Studio executive director Michelle Epps in a statement. “As one of FRONT’s community partners, we saw firsthand their dedication to making FRONT an equitable and accessible art exhibition for all.”

Janet Keeler, division manager of community development with Cuyahoga DD, added that the FRONT team welcomed the Cuyahoga DD staff to the exhibition space and implemented suggestions to make the space more inclusive.

“We view this partnership as a role model as we work to develop future partnerships in our community,” Keeler said.