Guest Author - Carla Ruschival
Friends-in-Art is a national organization of writers, sculptors, painters, raconteurs, dancers, actors, musicians, and art enthusiasts who just happen to be blind or visually impaired.
FIA was formed in 1984. Its mission is to help blind and visually impaired artists enhance their skills and broaden their opportunities. Through advocacy, scholarships, information-sharing, and activities, FIA increases opportunities for audiences with visual impairments to enjoy all aspects of the arts.
Here are some FIA programs and activities:
* SCHOLARSHIPS - FIA offers an annual $1,000 scholarship to further the education of a visually impaired artist.
* BROCHURE - A FIA brochure offers suggestions for making exhibits more accessible and promotes museum tours in which visually impaired and sighted participants can experience the benefits of enjoying art together.
* PARTNERING - FIA members collaborate with technology manufacturers to increase the accessibility of MIDI products, and with teachers to improve arts education for visually impaired children in public school classrooms.
Friends-in-Art holds its annual conference in conjunction with the American Council of the Blind convention. It happens each year during the first or second week of July. In 2007, ACB meeting dates are June 30-July 7, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. FIA activities will be scheduled from Sunday, July 1 through Thursday, July 5. Activities vary from year to year, but some of the perennial favorites include:
* The annual Performing Arts Showcase, where outstanding blind and visually impaired musicians from throughout the United States "strut their stuff" for enthusiastic audiences; even includes a chorus and a band. A top-notch show; it's the best ticket around!
* Museum or gallery tours of accessible exhibits, ranging from a computerized rendering of the Shroud of Turin to native crafts, African art and Native American sculpture;
* A round sing of familiar and not-so-familiar rounds from around the world;
* An art parlor displaying a wide variety of 2- and 3-dimensional visual arts created by blind and visually impaired people;
* A variety of workshops on topics such as MIDI technology, creative writing, public speaking, and fiber arts; and
* Opportunities to meet and talk with blind and visually impaired artists and musicians.
Friends-in-Art's newsletter is called "The Log of the Bridgetender". It highlights FIA convention activities, and contains articles of general interest to artists with visual impairments.
FIA is a nonprofit membership organization. Anyone interested in music, creative writing, the visual arts, drama or fiber arts, and how these art forms relate to the blind and visually impaired, is welcome to join.
Annual dues are $12.00 ($8.00 for students) per year. Checks should be made payable to FIA of ACB and sent to:
Arlo Monthei, FIA Treasurer
1304 39th Street
Des Moines, IA 50311
Please provide name, address, phone number, and email address. Also give your preference for braille, large print, or email newsletter.
FIA sells CD's of its annual Performing Arts Showcases. For more information, email Peter Altschul.
To learn more about FIA, its goals, programs and activities, and to share information and ideas, subscribe to the FIA email list by sending a blank message to: