On Saturday, July 16 at 11:30 am, a discussion panel took place regarding inclusion and diversity in the arts at the Hamptons Fine Art Fair.  The discussion chronicled the journey of improving support resources for disabled individuals.  It highlighted the progress of support for the disabled community over the past fifty years, from institutions such as Willowbrook State School, to current organizations like Rise in Spirit Community Art Center.  Guests were invited and encouraged to stay and enjoy the fair and visit our booth which featured a selection of work from the ArtABILITY collection, representing students from a variety of organizations that participate in the ArtABILITY program.


We are incredibly grateful to Rick Friedman and The Hamptons Fine Art Fair (HFAF) for inviting us to be a part of such a high-caliber event, and recognize the opportunity we had to facilitate the panel discussion and take action towards breaking down some of the barriers that exist both physically and institutionally within the art sector with regards to the special needs community. 


The panel included Charles Evdos (Executive Director of Rise Life Services), Michael Kitakis (Director of the Spirit of Huntington Art Center),  Erich Preis (Founder of the Spirit of Huntington Art Center), Victoria Schneps (President and Publisher of Schneps Media; Founder of Life’s WORC), and Nicole Wolf (Senior VP of Community Services of FREE- Family Residences and Essential Enterprises). 


ARTABILITY is a traveling special needs art exhibition organized by the Spirit of Huntington Art Center that showcases the talents of individuals on Long Island living with various physical and cognitive impairments. Its purpose is to educate the community about the remarkable talents of people with disabilities, inspire people to reach beyond their limitations to explore their own creativity, and promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the arts. 

The artwork is created through Spirit of Huntington’s Artists Come Alive program, a series of classes that introduces students to the lives of famous artists through an interactive slide show presentation which tells the story of the challenges the artists overcame through their art. The program, which sees over 250 participants a week, empowers students by tapping into their natural artistic abilities and encouraging them to create their own masterpieces and channel their emotions and feelings through their work. The result is a collection of incredibly unique and expressive artworks where each piece tells a remarkably personal story of each artist.


ARTABILITY is a direct result of the dedication of some of the best disability service organizations on Long Island. Our partner organizations are committed to bringing arts education, therapy, and opportunity to individuals with special needs. 


These partners include: ACLD, AHRC, AIM Network, Blue Umbrella Experience, Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau, East End Disability Associates, FREE- Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Halo Network, IGHL Associates, ISS, Life’s WORC, Pal-o-Mine Equestrian, Rise Life Services, South Huntington School District, SYJCC-Butler Center, and the Mid-Island YJCC-Adler Center for Special Needs and the Winters Center for Autism.