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WHERE THE ARTS COME ALIVE!

Meet the Redmans

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Harriet and Rich Redman have always had a passion for the arts. As members of choirs, pianists and as students of other instruments, the two passed their love of music on to their children. Their daughter participated in choirs and theater and their son Phillip, who is nonverbal, expresses joy when experiencing music.

“Phillip has a disability and a lot of times he understands something that is performed way better than spoken language. For example, in church – but really anywhere that he hears music, he gets so excited,” Harriet explained. “When it resolves to the final chord, the home key, he is applauding, vocalizing and is so excited. We don’t know what he understands since he’s nonverbal – but he understands music.”

Harriet, Executive Director and founder of WisconSibs, an organization focused on the needs of siblings of people with disabilities, explained how music helps to reach her son Philip and so many others with special needs.

“Art is critical to every human being and I believe reaches part of the brain that may not ever be stimulated,” Harriet said. “Whether it’s Alzheimer’s and portions of the brain are no longer functioning as they had or if there’s a disability like for Phillip where part of his brain is missing. Music can get past that and into regions that produces joy and students have shown can even help alleviate anxiety.”

That’s part of the reason why the Center strives to provide as many tools for accessibility as it can, while also finding unique sensory-friendly programming when possible to make the Center as inviting as possible.

“The paradigm for people with disabilities is that they may feel reluctant to go to the performing arts center because they might not feel welcome,” Rich said. “So when a program comes along that is for them, you have to educate them to get over that hurdle.”

“For some, sensory-friendly programming is the only way to experience live theater. There are so many barriers and if you can knock down the ones that are in your control like turning down the lights, adjusting the sounds, those are easy ones to do,” Harriet said. “Those basic accomodations allow people to participate, resulting in big benefits. People feel welcomed and perhaps engaged in something they have never experienced before and that can lead to unbelievable things.”

The Redmans have been involved with the Center since the beginning. Rich was an employee at Thrivent Financial (then Aid Association for Lutherans) as the Center was being built and Harriet was business manager for the White Heron Chorale (now newVoices) as community groups were talking about how to work together to make sure “all boats float,” as she put it.

“Throughout our lives music and arts have been important to us so we became Annual Partners right away,” Rich said. “From the very beginning we wanted to contribute to help enrich the quality of life for everyone in our community.”

The pair continue to be Annual Partners, sharing the gift of the arts with so many others in our community.
 
 
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