An illustration of a multigenerational crowd waiting at a bus stop

Access Gallery’s Cogenerational Community​ 

Access Gallery
Denver, Colorado

Creating a cogenerational incubator for older and younger artists with disabilities

People with disabilities are unemployed and underemployed at rates much higher than the general population. The Access Studio Community Program reimagines how the arts can jumpstart economic opportunity by pairing older and younger artists with disabilities. Older artists can give younger artists the ability to imagine a path forward. Younger artists can share innovations in mediums and techniques. Creative inspiration flows up and down the age span. In addition, cogenerational groups of artists work together on corporate commissions in the studio and through its social enterprise.

Marc Freedman Portrait

Led by Damon McLeese, Executive Director

Working at the intersection of art, ability and disability, Damon McLeese is a speaker, trainer, activist and community artist specializing in unlocking the creative power of people regardless of their background, belief or experience in creativity. Whether in a corporate setting or in the classroom, Damon’s collaborative approach bridges the gap between creativity and community. Damon creates projects that force us to look at creativity, ability and disability in very different ways. Projects as diverse as a photography project for people who are blind or a street art project for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Damon has been the executive director of Access Gallery for 25 years and was the recipient of the 2019 Bonfils Stanton Arts and Society Award, the 2017 Governor’s Award for Leadership in the Arts, 2014 Mayor’s Award for Innovation in the arts and was a speaker at the 2016 Tedx Mile High event and the 2022 Tedx CU event.

Damon is as comfortable working in a special education classroom as he is on a stage in front of thousands of people. Damon takes great joy in helping people discover or rediscover the creative genius that resides in us all.