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Inclusive by Design℠ Concert featuring Henry Butler


Blues guitarist and recent Berklee College of Music graduate, Noé Socha, opened for legendary New Orleans Bluesman Henry Butler presented in a format known as Inclusive by Design℠. This event was organized by VSA Massachusetts, Inc. (VSA MA) on June 18, 2016 at the at the Dalton Street Sheraton in Boston.

Inclusive by Design℠ concerts are multi-art, multi-sensory events.  Music is selected with rich narrative and visual content that is interpreted by visual artist Nancy Ostrovsky creating a large mural live on stage.  All of the visual elements are represented for the entire audience through audio description, adding a strong language, even poetic, component.  The performance is also interpreted in American Sign Language, and everything that is said or spoken is also captioned and presented on an LED screen.  The end result is an engaging multi-disciplinary experience that allows people of all abilities, including those who may be Deaf or hard of hearing or blind or have low vision, to be fully engaged in a shared creative experience.

Henry Butler is a five-time W.C. Handy “Best Blues Piano Instrumentalist” award nominee, Henry Butler knows no limitations.  Although blinded by glaucoma since birth, Butler is also a world-class photographer.  Playing piano since the age of six, Butler is a master of musical diversity.  A rich amalgam of jazz, Caribbean, classical, pop, R&B and blues influences, his music is as excitingly eclectic as that of his New Orleans birthplace.  Butler joined the IbD creative team in 2006 for a concert at the Gene Harris Festival and performed again in this format in 2009 at a concert hosted and recorded by WGBH.

VSA Massachusetts, Inc. (VSA MA) promotes the involvement of people of all abilities in the cultural life of our communities by developing effective arts-integrated teaching strategies in our schools, sponsoring exhibitions and performances by artists of all abilities, and helping families and communities understand and celebrate the transformative effect of the arts.  VSA MA has developed an approach to presenting the performing arts that incorporates the principles of Universal Design to create events that are fully inclusive of people of all abilities.  This approach is called Inclusive by Design℠.  This concert will demonstrate this new genre to conferees at the Americans for the Arts conference and the general public.

The concert is supported by the Naitonal Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency and the Boston Cultural commission, Berklee College of Music and the Maida Abrams Cultural Inclusion Society.

 VSA MA became an Affiliate of Seven Hills Foundation in November 2014 in order to strengthen our programs and better support people facing significant life challenges after they leave school. VSA MA is also part of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts international affiliate network of VSA organizations serving 35 states and over 50 other countries. VSA was created by President Kennedy’s sister Jean to honor her brother’s commitment to both the arts and to people with disabilities.

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