Hands On was founded in 1982 with 4 individuals, a small group of names for a mailing list and a first season that was comprised of 6 interpreted performances. Currently Hands On’s general mailing list is over 2500 with a subscription base of more than 950 and an active Web page that generates input from Deaf people locally and around the world. We average over 20-30 interpreted productions a year, including Bway and Off Bway, and a theater program for young people in colloboration with The New Victory Theatre. In 1994, Hands On established the Cultural Calendar of Events for the Deaf Community, the first and only comprehensive listing of cultural events for Deaf people.
Hands On is one of the only organization of its kind offering not only interpreted performances in the not-for-profit theatrical arena, but information on deafness and the arts across the city and country. In its 25+ years, Hands On has established a national reputation for providing high-quality interpreted theater. We have a core audience of loyal and committed Deaf theater-goers, but given a large Deaf signing population in the New York metropolitan area (estimated 75,000) the untapped audience potential is quite large. Understanding the Deaf community and it’s culture, peer trust is a very important component to community involvement and we feel we have the ability to increase the awareness of theater and the arts to a large, as yet untapped audience.
Acknowledging the importance of developing new audiences, Hands On has been focusing on audience development and as a result we have watched our audiences grow. As other NYC arts programs continue to expand their programs to include Deaf individuals, Hands On, as an acknowledged resource, provides them with access to the Deaf community through direct marketing with the Cultural Calendar and our web page.
Since 1982, Hands On has provided more than 400 interpreted performances at some of New York's most prestigious Broadway and off-Broadway theaters.
Some highlights include:
- Roundabout Theater Company - The first interpreted subscription series established in 1995.
- The New Victory Theater - Since the New Victory’s re-opening in 1995 as New York’s first theater for kids and families, Hands On has been part of the their programming, presenting interpreted educational and public performances for hundreds of deaf children and families
- Public Theater - Since 1984, annual interpreted performances at Shakespeare in the Park have invited thousands of Deaf audience members to be a part of this NYC tradition.