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Voices from Inside the Studio: The Right to Services and Privacy

For June the Chicago studio is focusing on the right to training and services and the right to privacy.

The Arts of Life rights statement for training and services
reads as follows: You have a right to
lead the planning of your services.  You
and your guardian, if you have one, are part of a team of people that you
choose to help you achieve your personal goals. 
You have the right to as many meetings as you feel would benefit you and
you have the right to invite whomever you feel is important in helping you
achieve your goals.

Every one of our Chicago artists takes part in a yearly planning meeting, where they and their team of service providers have an in-depth discussion about their values and goals – whether or not they’re being met, and what needs to be done in order to achieve them. Services include work or day programs and vocational training, transportation, home supports, and recreation, among many others.

Special Olympics is an example of a recreational service that many of our artists take part in.  Guy Connors, a running and sports enthusiast, takes part in many Special Olympics activities.  He and his father sit down and peruse a catalogue to decide together which activities and events he’d like to take place in.  Just this past weekend Guy brought home accolades from a swim meet, taking the peach ribbon for freestyle and the gold medal for butterfly.

Guy Connors sits at his desk and shows off his gold medal and peach ribbon, which hang around his neck

We also discussed our right to privacy: The studio is set up as a community with open rooms.  If you need to be by yourself, we will help
you find a way to have some personal, private, space.

Artist Tony Perez explains privacy plain and simple: “Privacy means it’s private.  Do not enter.  Close the door.”  For our purposes, privacy refers to having time and space to one’s self.  Finding privacy is a challenge for many people who work in open-office environments such as ours.  The openness of our studio has many benefits – it encourages social interaction and gives artists the opportunity to see what everyone else is working on; however when someone wants or needs to be alone, they have to take some extra steps.

The Chicago artists, staff, and volunteers working in our open studio space. Photo by Karissa Barney Reckling

This is where self advocacy comes in.  It is a responsibility of ours to let others
know what we need.  If someone needs to
be alone, the community can provide that – but only if they let us know first.  Each studio does have a wellness room, with a
door that closes, where artists can go if they need some time to themselves;
but if that is not enough, artists, staff, and volunteers can work together to
satisfy the need for privacy in any way possible.