Interact activities are made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the State's general fund and its arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008, and a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota.
Since 1996, Interact’s mission to create art that challenges perceptions of disability has opened doors for artists with disabilities and audiences eager to experience their work, who might never have seen the arts as a life choice, but who now see the arts as essential to their humanity. With over 125 artists working in theater and/or studio arts, Interact is multi-cultural, intergenerational, and embraces the entire spectrum of disability labels.
Interact’s work is driven by a vision of radical inclusion. We collaborate with artists with and without disabilities, from mainstream and marginalized communities, whose stories and life experiences are the grist for our original, ensemble-generated theatrical work, and inspire the spectrum of media that are created in our studio. Interact was the first – and remains the only –visual and performing arts organization for artists with disabilities, nationally or internationally, that is creating full-time at the professional level, and sharing exciting seasons of performances and exhibitions with our audiences.
In our history, we have produced over two dozen original, ensemble-created plays; mounted over four dozen exhibitions of original work; and hosted a national juried arts exhibit in our gallery. Interact Theater has toured to areas as far reaching as Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, England, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Australia; and today we are developing new partnerships with theaters in Africa’s Republic of Congo and in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We collaborate with major Minnesota artists and arts organizations in both our Theater and Studio. Visual artists from the Interact Studio have been shown in galleries from Chicago to New York to Boston, and their work appears in a number of outsider and visionary arts collections.
Interact’s driving vision of radical inclusion recognizes the fact that people with disabilities are uniquely creative and talented, but that they are often locked into failure situations because their creativity is ignored, discouraged, or considered inappropriate. Interact’s mission challenges that perception.
We have been leaders in developing an inclusive creative environment, producing critically-recognized work that blurs the boundaries between who “can” and who “cannot,” and blending a wide spectrum of talents and abilities by artists with and without disabilities, and artists from marginalized and mainstream communities.
Today, our company has grown from five artists in 1996, to 50+ artists creating and performing in our Theater, and 75+ artists working in our Studio. Artists range in age from 22 to 94; represent African-, Native-, Asian- and European-American backgrounds; and span the spectrum from PhD university professors sustaining their creativity in the aftermath of strokes, to talented young adults from high school transition programs who are looking to make their own mark in the arts, to artists who have sustained brain injury, artists on the autism spectrum, artists with Down syndrome, and every label in between. All artists are paid fees for performances, or commissions on the sale of artwork, that are comparable to standards of other mid-sized arts organizations.
To actively work as change agents through the arts, Interact’s infrastructure includes a visionary partnership with Minnesota’s social services system, through which we operate as an arts-specific day program for creative adults with disabilities, and receive service fees for the members of our company. Both the Minneapolis Foundation and the Humphrey Institute have recognized the importance of this partnership in integrating the arts into the overall fabric of social well-being and inclusiveness.