Meet the recipients of the 2023 Arts for Autism Access Grants here.
Host of Arts for Autism 2023: Caissie Levy
Caissie is currently appearing in her eighth Broadway show, Tom Stoppard's Leopoldstadt; this past year she starred in Sarah Silverman's The Bedwetter and the Tony nominated and Grammy nominated Broadway revival of Caroline, or Change at Studio 54. Later this year she will star in London's Donmar Warehouse production of Next to Normal. She created the role of Elsa in Disney’s Broadway production of Frozen, and recreated the iconic role of Fantine in the Broadway revival of Les Misérables. She is known to Broadway and West End audiences for originating the roles of Sheila in the Tony Award winning revival of Hair, and Molly in Ghost. Other Broadway credits include Elphaba in Wicked (also LA); Penny in Hairspray (also 1st national tour & Toronto); Maureen in Rent (national tour). Off Broadway credits include First Daughter's Suite (The Public Theater) and Murder Ballad (MTC). Caissie has recorded 5 original cast albums and been featured on many singer/songwriter's records. Her solo EP, With You, is available wherever you buy your music. In concert, she backed up Sir Rod Stewart in his Las Vegas residency, headlined Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops, and has played solo across the US, UK and Canada.
Jackson Tucker-Meyer is a fabulously autistic playwright, theatre artist, filmmaker, arts administrator, and educator who makes work that is weird for weirdness' sake.
Jackson's film Satan Cured My Autism won Best Mockumentary at the Museum of the Moving Image's inaugural Marvels of Media Awards. Jackson's play Banana Guy and Banana Girl with Banana Dreamz in a Krazy World was part of Roundabout Theatre Company's inaugural Reverb Theatre Arts Festival. Jackson's play The Perfection of the Donut was a semi-finalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Jackson has been an artist-in-residence with the Modern Accord Depot's MADarts program.
As an arts administrator, Jackson is Director of Programs for Actionplay, a neuroinclusive theatre nonprofit. As a musical theatre lyricist, Jackson is a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. As a performer, Jackson has participated in new works by Stew (The Blacker The Bärry), Dan Hurlin (Harmless), Bluelaces (Scribble), and Rat Queen Theatre Company (Judy Doomed Us All). As a public speaker, Jackson has given talks on the intersection of theatre and disability at Lincoln Center, Brooklyn College, the City College of New York, and the 6th International Teaching Artist Conference.
Evie Reed recalls being enchanted by the Wizard of Oz when she was two years old, and she's loved musicals ever since! When asked about her favorite musical, she says, "RENT was my first love, but of course I also love Hamilton. All musicals celebrating diversity." Despite finding few opportunities for involvement in theatre as an autistic adult and even facing active discouragement from vocal teachers, the Kansas City native found the experience and encouragement she was looking for in her current vocal coach, composer Scott Evan Davis. Evie dreams of a career that will allow her to be creative and involved in the performing arts. She says, "I would love to be an actor and author, and one of my biggest dreams is to be a part of original musical theater pieces as an actor, but maybe as a writer, too. I love the development stages of new works and the idea of bringing a character to life for the first time. I would love to one day bring a story centered around an autistic person of color to the stage—a story that doesn’t center around being autistic."
Shining Stars Network
Shining Stars Network is a 501(c)(3) non-for-profit organization that specializes in shining a light on the special needs community through the performing arts while providing opportunities for people with and without special needs to improve their singing, dancing, and acting abilities and to enhance self-confidence and self-esteem.
Shining Stars Network was founded in 2012 by the Curci family to provide a platform for the special needs community to showcase their many talents in an inclusive environment!
Starting as a local talent show in Cranford, N.J., Shining Stars Network has grown into a charity that offers creative arts opportunities all year round, currently serving members of seven New Jersey Counties.
Arts for Autism is a one night annual Broadway benefit concert where the biggest names on Broadway join performing arts students from around the country onstage at the Gershwin Theater, home to Broadway's production of Wicked. Together we perform, spread acceptance, and inspire compassion, kindness, and understanding for those impacted by autism. We hope you'll join us for this evening celebrating hope and new beginnings as we look forward to a brighter future for all.
Who Does the Concert Benefit?
Each year funds raised from the Arts For Autism benefit concert will be distributed in the form of grants between $1,000 and $5,000. We are passionate about the arts and how they can positively impact everyone. For this reason we have established the Arts Access Grant to ensure that each year at least one of our grants will be used specifically to expand access to the arts for people impacted by autism. The Community Access Grant can be used more broadly for any project (including arts-related) that improves the lives of people impacted by autism and we will grant as many as possible until funds raised are exhausted. Arts organizations may apply for both grants. Grants are available for any U.S. based organization or individual and people on the autism spectrum are encouraged to apply. Funds granted must be used within twelve months of being awarded.
Our newly established advisory board will oversee the granting of funds raised at the Arts For Autism benefit concert. The board was formed in 2022 in response to community feedback about where money raised is being donated. We are excited to see where they decide to make an impact to support the autism community this year and beyond! Check our site later this summer for updates.
"This event to me is special because it shows that there isn't one way to tell a story. The power of song. The power of dance. It has a farther reach than just entertainment. We can do something. We can do something really important."
- Kelvin Moon Loh, The King and I & Spongebob Squarepants, the Broadway Musical
Broadway Benefit Concert Arts for Autism 2023
Here's How We Did In 2023
PEOPLE IN ATTENDENCE
RAISED TO SUPPORT
THOSE WITH AUTISM
"I believe all people need to be respected and accepted for who they are."
- Laura Osnes, Two-Time Tony Award Nominee, Cinderella & Bonnie & Clyde
Educational Travel Adventures (ETA) & Believe NYC
Connect with Us
Michael is the owner and founder of Educational Travel Adventures and co-producer of Arts for Autism. Born and raised in the New York area, Michael graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in computer science and shortly after found his way into the student travel industry. Decades later, he leads one of the country's most successful student tour operators with a team of more than 25 professionals sending tens of thousands of young people across the globe each year. Among those are many in the performing arts that travel and perform.
Michael also chairs the board of trustees for the nonprofit Emergency Housing and Advocacy Program in Monmouth County, NJ. The organization provides emergency winter shelter and advocacy for the homeless in western Monmouth with a mission to assist, empower and educate the most vulnerable to ensure their ability to live independently with self-determination.
With a passion for the arts, education and service to others, the Arts for Autism project is very dear to him. When Michael is not working he spends time with family including his wife and two sons. Much to his surprise, he has also recently dabbled in farming while nurturing the interests of one of his sons. You will likely find him collecting eggs now in his free time!
Keiji is a professional music director, pianist, arranger, composer and teacher throughout New York City and Westchester. In addition to his work on RENT at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, he has vocal coached and music directed for Pace University, Ars Nova, the Lucy Moses School at the Kaufman Center, Crestwood Music Education Center, PlayGroup Theater, Brooklyn Friends School, and the Beacon School. A graduate of Yale University where he music directed such groups as the Whiffenpoofs, Keiji also continues to lead a cappella ensembles, including the semi-professional Lost Keys of New York.
Keiji is also an avid vocal arranger, his pieces having been performed throughout the world and on such TV shows as Glee! His recently published Book of Rounds--21 epiphanal pieces written in conjunction with songwriters Julie Flanders and Emil Adler--is scheduled to be performed in its entirely by Chorus Austin in November 2016.