Project History


January, 2023 

The Consortium convenes an Action Tank – Ensuring Continuity, Expanding Conversation, Extending Community. The virtual discussion, building on needs determined at the October 2021 conference, focuses on solutions and how to implement them.

October, 2022  

The Consortium’s fourteenth annual conference – an in-person event, IN SYNC: Ensuring Continuity, Expanding Conversation, Extending Community

July & August, 2022 

The Consortium presents The Summer Series: Working with Students with Severe and Profound Disabilities in and Through the Arts. The in-person sessions continue the initiative launched with a Theater workshop pre-pandemic.

Music. Presenter, Katherine Stock

Visual Art. Presenter, Erica Rooney

Dance. Presenter, Juana Cala

March & April, 2022 

The Consortium convenes its fourth and fifth Special Education and the Arts Think Tank. The virtual discussion – attended by school and Arts administrators, teaching artists, Arts specialists and parents – focuses on needs, concerns, solutions as we move to in-person instruction.

December, 2021 

The Consortium’s thirteenth annual, and second two-day, conference – a virtual event, CONNECTING AND RE-CONNECTING – with Our Students, Their Families, Our Partners, Ourselves.

July, 2021

The Consortium presents The Summer Series: Best Practices for a New Landscape

Dance and Movement. Presenter, Rachel McCaulsky

Visual Arts. Presenter, Susan Gonzalez

Music. Presenter, Brian Wagner-Yeung

May, 2021

The Consortium provides professional development, Building A Virtual Museum with ArtSteps, presented by Susan Abdulezer.

April, 2021

The Reverb Theatre Arts Festival premieres. The event – inaugurated by the Consortium, co-presented by the Consortium and Roundabout Theatre in collaboration with ActionPlay, CO/Lab Theater Group, Dreamstreet Theatre Company and Epic Players – presents the voices of artists with disabilities on the virtual stage. Open to artists nationally aged 16 and up, the Festival garners more than 2300 views in its first month.

January/February, 2021

The Consortium’s twelfth annual, and first two-day conference — a virtual event, TEACHING AND LEARNING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC — Arts Education and Students with Disabilities.

December, 2020

The Consortium convenes its third Special Education and the Arts Think Tank. The virtual discussion – attended by school and Arts administrators, teaching artists, Arts specialists and parents – focuses on how to provide quality Arts Education to students with disabilities during the pandemic, extending the July and September conversations.

The Consortium launches Reverb Theatre Arts Festival, a national initiative presenting the voices of artists with disabilities on the virtual stage. A project initiated by the Consortium and in partnership with Roundabout Theatre Company, Actionplay, CO/LAB Theater Group, DreamStreet Theater Company and EPIC Players

September, 2020

The Consortium convenes its Special Education and the Arts Think Tank. The virtual discussion – attended by school and Arts administrators, teaching artists, Arts specialists and parents – focuses on how to provide quality Arts Education to students with disabilities during the pandemic, extending the July conversation.

July, 2020

The Consortium convenes a Special Education and the Arts Think Tank. The virtual discussion – attended by school and Arts administrators, teaching artists, Arts specialists and parents – focuses on how to provide quality Arts Education to students with disabilities during the pandemic.

July, 2020

The Consortium is awarded a grant by The Theresa Foundation to offer a series of online professional developments in best practices in providing remote, Arts-specific Arts Education to students with disabilities.

April, 2020

Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly publishes Resources for TAs: Getting to Know the Arts for All Abilities Consortium.  (Issue 18, Spring, 2020.)

November, 2019

The Consortium’s eleventh annual conference, EXPANDING PARTNERSHIPS – Who, Why, How.

September, 2019

The Consortium provides professional development, Working with Students with Severe and Profound Disabilities Through Theater.

June, 2019

Consortium Steering Committee members provide professional development in Inclusion and in Universal Design for Learning and offer guidance in Creating Resources to teaching artists and administrators of GIVE (Growing Inclusivity for Vibrant Engagement) – an Arts organization collaboration between Arts Connection, Community Word Project and The New Victory Theater.

April, 2019

The Consortium guest teaches an Inclusive Arts Education class to Masters of Theatre Education students at City College of New York.

March, 2019

The Consortium collaborates with Maryland-based RespectAbility on a New York City Empowerment Training for Mothers of Students with Disabilities.

January, 2019

The Consortium begins serving as an Advisor to The Speech and Language Arts Initiative. The project integrates Speech/Language Therapy with Arts instruction in three schools, in three-boroughs and across numerous disabilities in District 75/NYC DOE.

December, 2018

The Consortium provides professional development, Giving Voice – Drama and Speech/Language Therapists, to 100 NYC DOE Speech/Language therapists.

November, 2018

The Consortium inaugurates its Observation Initiative. Teaching Artists (in company with their organization administrators), or Arts Specialists observe Master Arts classes and de-brief on site with those master TA or Arts Specialist teachers.

October, 2018

The Consortium’s tenth annual conference, INCLUSION – Practices, Partnerships and Possibilities (Another Take).

July, 2018

The Consortium, in collaboration with The Consortium’s Arts Values Working Group, convenes An Administrators Forum for the Arts. A panel of principals and the former superintendent of NYC DOE District 75 speaks to an audience of senior school and art organization administrators about the values of the Arts and how to support the Arts/overcome obstacles. The event includes a first-of-its-kind opportunity: Mentoring – on-site and/or otherwise – by panelists to interested attendees moving forward.

December, 2017

Stephen Yaffe receives the VSA NYC Arts Advocate of the Year Award, 2018 “In recognition of outstanding efforts to promote understanding and enhance arts opportunities for students with disabilities” as Arts for All Abilities Consortium chair.

October, 2017

The Consortium’s ninth annual conference, INCLUSION – Practices, Partnerships and Possibilities.

Spring, 2017

The Consortium helps plan the NYC Arts In Education Roundtable’s Day of Learning: Working with Students with Disabilities, held at Carnegie Hall in June.

May, 2017

The Consortium launches its Teaching Artists Initiative, convening the inaugural Teaching Artist Congress to examine best practices for Teaching Artists working with students with disabilities.

Winter 2017

The Consortium works with the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Arts and Special Projects helping develop the OASP’s Students with Disabilities Online Resource Compendium.

January, 2017

Arts in Special Education Consortium (ASEC) becomes Arts for All Abilities Consortium LLC.

December, 2016

The Consortium convenes a Core Cohort of veteran teaching artists to help us ascertain major needs of and how we might better serve this core constituency. As a result, the group begins meeting monthly, helping us plan a multi-faceted Teaching Artists Initiative that will launch in 2017.

November, 2016

The Consortium presents at the New York City Arts In Education Roundtable panel discussion, Arts Education and District 75: Best Practices for Partnering with the Largest Special Education District in the Nation.

October, 2016

The Consortium and the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at LIU Post present a hands-on workshop, Making Visual Arts Accessible To All, on Long Island.

September, 2016

The Consortium presents to over 200 Occupational Therapists working in NYC DOE sites about the values of the Arts for them, the added values they bring when included in Arts education provided students with disabilities, and how to be part of this work.

May, 2016

ASEC’s eighth annual conference, Connecting to Tomorrow – How the Arts Enable

March, 2016

The Consortium and the The Consortium Arts Values Working Group provide professional development to Occupational Therapists.

December, 2015

ASEC co-presents The Magic of the Arts in Special Education with the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts’ Department of Arts Education at LIU Post on Long Island. A screening of selected excerpts of Spectrum of Hope, a rich and moving documentary about students with disabilities engaged in a multi-Arts program at Manhattan public school P94M, was followed by a panel discussion focused on building and sustaining quality Arts programs.

November, 2015

The Consortium, in conjunction with the The Consortium Arts Values Working Group, presents A Conversation with Dr. D – A Medical Perspective on the Values of the Arts for Students with Disabilities.  The sold-out event featured Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky, Associate Medical Director of the Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center at Columbia University, leading specialist in the fields of physical and intellectual disabilities, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon, and developer of a New York City Ballet program for children with disabilities.

May, 2015

ASEC’s seventh annual conference, Weaving It In – Supporting and Sustaining the Work

May, 2015

The Consortium Arts Values Working Group presents its first public venue, The Arts Are Learning, The Consortium 2015 conference session.

February, 2015

The Consortium holds a Special Leadership Session at the Metropolitan Opera Guild offices exploring barriers to and new possibilities for partnering in Arts education provided students with disabilities.  As a result of the convening, two participants – the Director of Physical Therapy for the NYC DOE and a NYC DOE Occupational Therapy Supervisor – plan Arts-related professional development for their respective staffs.

Fall, 2014

The Consortium launches a web-based Resources Section. Within weeks it is being used internationally.

May, 2014

The Consortium presents at a NYC DOE professional development for Visual Arts teachers working with special learners and conducts a mini-needs assessment with these Arts specialists and their department Director. The PD was offered by the NYC Department of Education, The Office of Arts and Special Projects/Visual Arts Department.

April, 2014

The Consortium is invited to attend the United Nations for World Autism Awareness Day, 2014.

April, 2014

ASEC’s sixth annual conference, Revealing Capacity – Opening the Inner and Outer World.

April, 2014

The Consortium presents Unpacking and Communicating Arts Values for Special Needs Students at the 2014 Face To Face Conference, NYC. Session leaders are Consortium Steering Committee members Adam Goldberg, Ronnie Shuster and Stephen Yaffe.

March-April, 2014

Teacher Tom Rosa and Musician/Teaching Artist Hank Wagner

The Consortium and the NYC Department of Education – Office of Arts and Special Projects, Theater Department – collaborate on a mini-course, THE INCLUSIVE THEATER CLASSROOM: SPECIAL NEEDS & SPECIAL GIFTS. The multi-tiered professional development was provided General Ed and District 75 Theater Teachers throughout NYC, El-HS. It focused on Universal Design for Learning and included workshop sessions, a full-day, on-site observation at P94M@P15M and de-brief with school staff and partner teaching artists, the creation of an ongoing professional learning community with web discussion platform and optional on-site coaching.

The venue was co-designed by Peter Avery, Director of Theater Programs, Office of Arts and Special Projects, NYC DOE, and Stephen Yaffe, Consortium Chair. Yaffe served as Lead Presenter and Coach. The Consortium Steering Committee member Lisa Dennett led a workshop session. The Consortium Steering Committee members Ronnie Shuster, P94M principal, and Tessa Derfner, the P94M Arts Coach, hosted the on-site visit.

The professional development brought course participants together with teaching artists as session leaders in formal PD and/or observed classroom sessions. This is particularly significant, as Arts specialist/TA partnerships are of great value and more the exception than the rule.


December, 2013

Consortium Co-Founder Lisa Dennett

The Consortium holds a professional development workshop for Long Island Teaching Artists at the Theresa Academy of Performing Arts in Lido Beach, NY. Teaching artists who live and work in both Nassau and Suffolk counties gathered to explore adapting activities for a variety of students with disabilities. Movement work was led by TA Dafna Soltes Stein, and Theater work was led by Steering Committee member Lisa Dennett.

October, 2013

The Consortium sponsors two workshop presentations at the New York State Theatre Education Association (NYSTEA) Conference.

  • Acting It Out – Presenter, Nancy Volante – Consortium Steering Committee member
  • iPad as a Tool for All Inclusive Theater – Presenter, Adam Goldberg – Consortium Steering Committee member

September, 2013

The Consortium hosts a performance of BOB, Blessed be the Dysfunction That Binds, a new play about mental illness and its affects on a family, followed by a post-show Talkback facilitated by The Consortium.  Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, Abingdon Arts Complex.

Summer-Fall, 2013

As a result of a highly successful spring 2013 Consortium conference, three Consortium Steering Committee members are asked by VSA/The Kennedy Center to be part of a five-person team charged with writing Best Practices for Teaching Artists Working with Students with Disabilities and creating an accompanying Best Practices Rubrics for Teaching Artists Working with Students with Disabilities in Dance, Drama, Music and Visual Arts. The Lead Writer on both efforts was ASEC’s Chair.

June, 2013

The Consortium held a special, joint session of its Values and Common Core Standards Working Groups on Unpacking and Communicating Arts Values at The Center For Arts Education. The nearly-half-day discussion/Think Tank was facilitated by Ronnie Shuster, principal of P94M, and ASEC Chair Stephen Yaffe.

April, 2013

ASEC’s fifth yearly annual conference, Why Good Work Works – Raising Expectations, was held at Museum of Jewish Heritage near Battery Park in Manhattan.

March, 2013

The Consortium hosted An Introduction to the Common Core Standards, the Arts and Special Education at BAM. The meeting – for ASEC Common Core Standards Working Group members and invited guests – was led by Kathy London, Arts Instructional Support Specialist for District 75, NYC Department of Education.

December, 2012

The Consortium facilitated a Talkback with actors and audience after a performance of Falling – a new play by Deanna Jent, directed by Lori Adams and staged at the Minetta Lane Theater in New York City. The piece boldly explores the dynamic and complicated reality of a family with an autistic young man. Free tickets to Falling were offered Friends of ASEC.

October, 2012

Nicole Callihan, poet and essayist

The Consortium co-hosted, with NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, a discussion. The conversation took place after a National Theatre Live performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The piece – based on Mark Haddon’s multi-award winning novel, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliot, co-director of the UK’s National Theatre’s acclaimed War Horse – centers on a 15 year old on the Autism spectrum. The post-screening conversation focused on the disability. Discounted tickets were offered Friends of ASEC.

April, 2012

ASEC’s fourth annual conference, Why Good Work Works: Structuring For Value, Implementing For All.

April, 2012

The Consortium holds a focus group with Long Island teaching artists.

April, 2012

On April 28, 2012, The Consortium held its first-ever Arts In Special Education Think Tank.  The event – graciously hosted by the Brooklyn Academy of Music – was attended by 34 invited stakeholders and/or practitioners in the field – including school principals, art organization administrators, teaching artists, classroom teachers, arts teachers, related service providers and parents.

Prior to the Think Tank discussants were asked to respond to the following question: What are the three most important obstacles or needs facing you and/or the field in providing quality arts education to students on the special education spectrum – in inclusion and/or self-contained settings?

Reviewing all answers, four primary areas of focus emerged –

  • Understanding and Communicating Values
  • Building Capacity, Knowledge and Understanding – Professional Development
  • Deepening and Expanding Partnerships and Collaboration
  • Funding/Development
Bill Fiorelli, principal of PS 37R

These became the starting point of the Think Tank.  In the morning participants
worked in small randomly assigned groups examining this quartet of issues.  In
the afternoon they self-selected areas of interest and began exploring possible
solutions.  Asked to move to Next Steps four, mixed-constituency Working
Groups were formed at the end of the day – Arts Values, Parent Outreach, Arts/Common Core Standards, Assessment/Evaluation.

If you are interested in joining any of these Working Groups, please contact Stephen Yaffe at

April 2011

ASEC’s third annual conference, Why Good Work Works: Real World Application took place at beautiful P94M@PS/IS276 in Manhattan, near Battery Park.

December, 2011

The Consortium holds a focus group with parents of children with disabilities, El-HS. The latter attend public or private schools across the city.

February 2011

As a consortium, three teaching artist training models were shared via a panel moderated by Chairperson Stephen Yaffe. The training models to help prepare teaching artists to work with students in special education were shared by Dena Malarek from Arts Horizons, Lisa Dennett from I.D.E.A.S. and Erica Rooney speaking to the Teaching Artist Training Institute of Marquis Studios in partnership with PS 37R and supported by the Center for Arts Education.

January 2011

As a result of the focus group held in November 2010 a small group of arts organization representatives and school principals met to consider the possibility of providing professional development to paraprofessionals. As a direct result of that conversation, teaching-artist led sessions were held in the spring at two District 75, NYC Special Education, schools and funding for a longer term, multi-site para PD was secured.

November 2010

The Consortium held a paraprofessional focus group to better ascertain the needs of paraprofessionals, obstacles they face working in arts settings and how to overcome them. Discussants came from schools across the city – in and outside of District 75 (Special Education), and worked with a range of student populations and needs, K-12. This important discussion considered the value of para’s in arts education, how to better involve them and how to increase their capacity to work in and through the arts.

April 2010

ASEC’s second annual conference, Why Good Work Works: Values, Obstacles and Bridges was held at the Museum of Arts and Design.

March 2010

Dr. George York, a founder and principal of Bronx High School of the Visual Arts (BHSVA)

We held a focus group with related service providers – occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, school social workers, guidance counselors and psychologists. Its primary was to ascertain needs and priorities of these professionals, their attitudes towards the Arts and their perceptions of the role of the Arts, if any, in their work. This is a first step in our better understanding and including this important community. Consortium co-chair Stephen Yaffe and Consortium Steering Committee member Dena Malarek will co-facilitate this discussion.

December 2009

Steering Committee member and retired Principal Lester Katz facilitated a Principals’ Focus Group centered on current challenges faced by site administers regarding the arts and special education, how principals are championing this cause and what further support is needed.

September 2009

Presenter Susan Perel, Parent

The Arts in Special Education Consortium sponsored a meeting between senior NYCDOE administrators, the UFT, selected principals and members of our Steering Committee to consider the need to provide professional development in the arts to paraprofessionals. Many thanks to the Center for Arts Education for hosting that initial discussion.

April 2009

ASEC’s first conference, Why Good Work Works: Propelling a Dialogue for Special Education and The Arts, was held at the Uris Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art.