Inclusive Experiences For Everyone!

This innovative and timely new program will provide direct, integrated support to young people with disabilities so that everyone can be fully included in any theatre education experience at SLT.

A message from fund co-creator, Kara DeBacker.

"While the Springfield area community has multiple, varied, and well-established theatre experiences for people of all ages, few if any of these programs offer specific inclusive support for those with differing abilities. Furthermore, “disability representation in performing arts is minimal. One in four American adults has a disability of some kind, making them the largest minority in the country, yet they are also the least represented in the performing arts field: Ninety-five percent of disabled characters are played by able-bodied actors.” i The same statistics apply to those working in other theatre-related capacities: administrators, designers, technical crew, and educators. 

As a community, the movement toward diversity, equity, and inclusion in the arts is at the forefront of social awareness, yet those with disabilities are largely ignored. As with all social change, inclusion and education begins with children’s participation. Most local arts organizations do not deliberately exclude youth with disabilities. However, they are equally not concerned with the need or equipped with the tools to proactively and successfully welcome children with disabilities. Therefore, if the previous statistics are correct, up to 25% of our young people are left out of active theatre participation and education.  

From my family’s own experience involved with Springfield Little Theatre for four decades (the last two of which my son with a disability was uniquely included in its education programs and has gone on to pursue technical theatre in his college studies and career), we can provide knowledge, guidance, and financial support to make a difference. Utilizing the visionary educational model and exceptional infrastructure at SLT, it is our intent to implement and grow a theatre education experience that will fully support young people with disabilities to achieve personal fulfillment and success."

The Supported Theatre Fund was created by Adam DeBacker and Kara DeBacker in 2022. 





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