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Midwest Award for Artists with Disabilities

The Midwest Award for Artists with Disabilities supports accessibility in the arts and celebrates the work of disabled Midwestern visual artists.

An abstract painting of a tree in vivid colors.
Photo Credit: Timothy Traver and Interact Center for Visual & Performing Arts


About Midwest Award for Artists with Disabilities  

Please note that we acknowledge both identity first and person first framing of disability identity. When we use the phrase “disabled artists,” we intend to align with the Social Model of Disability understanding that people are disabled by environmental and societal barriers. 

We invite mid-career 2D and 3D visual artists with disabilities to apply for this award. The 2023 award application closed at 11:59 pm CT on May 22, 2023.

Visual artists with disabilities, across many lines of difference, are doing incredible work around the Midwest. The Midwest Award for Artists with Disabilities recognizes and celebrates their efforts and encourages their future work.  

This award also supports and celebrates accessibility in the arts. It recognizes that the general funding community in the Midwest has not historically invested in disabled artists and that increasing support for this group is an important part of increasing accessibility in the arts. It also advocates for the arts being viable employment, which is often overlooked by funding agencies supporting people with disabilities. 

From 2023–2025, this award will recognize 27 individuals (9 per year) in the Arts Midwest region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and the Native Nations that share this geography.  

Each awardee will receive a $3,000 check award. Total awards across the region will equal $27,000 per year. There are no requirements for how awarded funds are used, though awardees are encouraged to use it toward growing their art career. Awardees’ submitted work will be featured on the Arts Midwest website.  

Applications are now closed for the 2023 Midwest Award for Artists with Disabilities. To get updated when the award opens again, subscribe to our newsletter in our website footer at the bottom of this page.

How to Apply

July 27 2023: First round of nine awards made

Summer 2024: Application round 2 opens

Summer 2025: Application round 3 opens

For more information on when the next cycle of awards will open, please sign up to receive emails on the footer of our website.

This award is supported by the James Edward Scherbarth and Paul Francis Mosley Giving Fund. The award was created in honor of the late James Edward Scherbarth, an award-winning visual artist, visual arts teacher, and advocate of arts access who lived and worked in Minnesota. Jim believed that creativity lives in everyone, and he dedicated his career to helping people express themselves through the visual arts.

Established in 2022, the Midwest Award for Artists with Disabilities Award honors Mr. Scherbarth’s commitment to arts access by supporting mid-career Midwestern visual artists with disabilities.

Thank you to Koko Dehn, Bonnie Thorne, and Simone Needles with Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts for their invaluable insights in the shaping of this award.

Have questions about the Midwest Award for Artists with Disabilities?

We’re happy to answer any questions you have about the Midwest Award for Artists with Disabilities. Be sure to check out our FAQs, and if you’d like to talk to us we’re just an email or a phone call away. 

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