The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University was established in 1974 and works with people with disabilities and families across Pennsylvania to change systems, share knowledge, and promote self-determination. The Institute explores the potential of an arts-based approach to engage the larger community in a dialogue around disability issues and the history of the disability rights movement through its Media Arts & Culture unit.
The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University explored the potential of public performance to engage the larger community in a dialogue around disability issues and to forge connections beyond its main constituency of people with intellectual disabilities and their families. Theater artist David Bradley, co-artistic director of the National Constitution Center's recent exhibition/theater hybrid Fighting for Democracy, and Suli Holum, playwright and founding member of Pig Iron Theatre Company, worked with the Institute to craft workshop versions of a performance piece, A Fierce Kind of Love. This work-in-progress tells the stories of self-advocates and parents who became "accidental warriors" in the late 20th-century movement, seeking to cultivate rights for children, adults and families affected by intellectual disabilities. Workshop Q&A sessions with the public have allowed the Institute to revise and refine its approach to the use of performance in stimulating conversation around issues of inclusion, institutionalization, and continued threats to programs that support people living with disabilities in Pennsylvania.