The Case for Gateway Arts

Creative expression is a vital means for persons with disabilities to overcome barriers and assert their place in the world. As Art in America recently stated, “Art has played an integral—maybe even primary—role in the burgeoning movement for disability justice throughout the United States in the last decade… [Artists] have demanded that their stories and perspectives infiltrate and change a culture riddled with ableist norms.”

Still, artists with disabilities remain marginalized in the 21st century creative economy. Too often they are denied opportunities for education and training, mentorship, and access to markets. Philanthropic support for social justice often overlooks the struggles of disabled persons seeking meaningful work, creative expression, and social support.

For half a century Gateway Arts has worked to rectify these inequities. A program of Vinfen, Gateway Arts runs seven dynamic studios where artists with developmental and intellectual disabilities, brain injuries, and mental health diagnoses, create works of art to exhibit, share, and sell to the public.

Today nearly 100 Gateway artists work each week alongside a team of highly skilled artist facilitators who guide their professional development in a safe, supportive, creative workplace. Gateway Arts staff work cooperatively with behavioral health professionals, family, friends, and others to help the artists reach their potential as creators, individuals, and members of a community. Gateway artists work in professional studios and exhibit and sell artwork in our onsite and online store and gallery. The artists receive a 50% commission on all art sales.

 Gateway Arts has been key to my Uncle Sidney his entire adult life. It’s helped shape his life and contributed to making him the great man that he is today! 

– Gena Perry, niece of Gateway Artist Sidney Perry

Banner Artwork by Jamilah Monroe and Bohill Wong