LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Leadership Initiative for Neurodivergent Artists

TMP's Leadership Initiative for Neurodivergent Artists comprises three of our core programs: Express Yourself, a first-of-its kind expressive arts program designed for and creatively led by participants who identify as multimodality communicators; I Can Do That, a unique professional acting and training program preparing autistic and disabled children and young adults to work in the entertainment industry; and the Miracle Masters Internship Program, a paid internship for young adults who have completed at least one year of TMP programming.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Access to Creative Industry Employment (sponsored by the Snap Foundation)

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA

West LA

South Bay

Antelope Valley

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

For those with disabilities, programs often focus on "correcting" behaviors, trying to get participants to fit into a world that sees them as "other," not just disabled but unable. After years of being bullied and feeling unseen and unheard, these individuals often suffer from low self-esteem and an inability to express their innate talents. Far too often individuals with disabilities are spoken for, prohibiting them from having ownership over their own narratives and thereby perpetuating inaccurate stereotypes. They are regularly excluded from music and performance-based programs because funders and social service agencies fail to recognize the efficacy of the expressive/performing arts in enhancing communication among non-speaking individuals. Politically, they are one of the audiences least engaged with by elected officials. Our participants and their families simply want a seat at the table, and they are consistently, and sometimes systematically, refused a chair - or a vote.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

TMP has been a source of community for individuals of all abilities for almost 20 years. We fight the stigma that haunts autistic and disabled individuals by embracing those with disabilities for who they are and applying innovative arts curricula to creatively join their world instead of trying to force them to join ours. TMP is also firmly committed to the expression championed during the Disability Rights Movement - "Nothing About Us Without Us." As such, all of TMP's original content is participant-driven. The concept of "Our Voice is Our Vote" came directly from a participant in the Express Yourself class, and TMP staff then held a brainstorming session with participants to gauge their interest in the project and hold space for them to develop the idea. Additionally, Hollywood is trying to have authentic representation of people of all abilities and does not have a talent pool to draw from. TMP is developing this talent pool through our I Can Do That Program, a unique ground-breaking, evidence-based methodology, which is becoming a sought after resource for Hollywood and is transforming the entertainment industry and the way the world sees and understands neurodiversity. To date, TMP has helped more than 30 individuals secure employment in film and television, including on hit shows for Netflix, NBC, ABC, Fox and Amazon. Finally, the Miracle Masters Internship Program allows individuals trained in our methodology to parlay their experience into a career in the arts.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

TMP envisions a world where the voices and stories of the neurodivergent are heard and honored, and where they have self representation in both the arts and in the political arena. To help make this a reality, TMP shares our methodology and the talents of our participants, and continues to be a sustainable presence in the local community through social skills classes, musical theater classes, acting for film/TV and film production classes, public appearances and performances, professional trainings, parent and caregiver support groups, and the writing, lectures and speeches of our program leaders. Last year, local venues where TMP students performed included: the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts; Skirball Cultural Center; Dodgers Stadium; UCLA; and the Afro-Classical Composers Concert. TMP currently offers classes both online and at The Wallis, and we envision future expansion of our in person classes into the San Fernando Valley and the South Bay in the near future.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Goals for the Leadership Initiative for Neurodivergent Artists are for participants to report an increase in self-confidence, self-esteem, self-advocacy skills, ability to engage in meaningful collaboration with neurodivergent and neurotypical individuals, ability to take direction and complete tasks, effective communication, initiative, leadership, understanding of personal strengths and artistic goals, and knowledge of various employment opportunities/careers in the arts. This will be evidenced by supervision, surveys/interviews, and written assessments taken at the beginning and end of each term. To measure the impact of the I Can Do That class, spreadsheets will be kept of all casting calls and other requests for our students or alumni to work in entertainment. Deliverables include the creation of an original music video by the Express Yourself class: "Our Voice is Our Vote," and a production at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts to showcase participants' work.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 175

Indirect Impact: 4,000,000