December 2, 2021
Contact: Chris Watford
(413) 528-5485
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GREAT BARRINGTON, MA— Community Access to the Arts announces that Dawn Lane, CATA’s Artistic Director, will retire after 28 years with the nonprofit. CATA, whose mission is to nurture and celebrate the creativity of people with disabilities, serves 800 children, teens, and adults with disabilities across Berkshire and Columbia counties through arts workshops and events.

“As I step down from my role as Artistic Director,” says Dawn Lane, “I am reminded of my first days at CATA, teaching weekly workshops and sitting on a wooden folding chair in CATA founder Sandy Newman’s home office—growing CATA. And look at CATA now! I am full of comic and poignant memories and a deep sense of fulfillment. Quality has informed everything in my work with CATA artists, followed closely by creativity, advocacy, and of course, humor! Endings are an opportunity to begin—for me and for CATA!”

“It is impossible to capture how deep Dawn’s contributions have been here at CATA,” says Margaret Keller, CATA’s Executive Director. “Dawn’s unparalleled artistry and the high bar she has continuously set as an artist, teacher, choreographer, and director have shaped and guided CATA’s mission, along with her impassioned advocacy for people with disabilities. It is an exciting time for Dawn and for CATA, with so much ahead for us all. Dawn’s legacy of innovation and inclusion will inspire CATA’s work for years to come.”

Since joining CATA in 1994, Dawn founded the Moving Company, a celebrated mixed-ability dance company. Through Dawn’s leadership, the company has become a vital platform for dancers with developmental and intellectual disabilities to express themselves and tap into their artistry. From 2003-2007, Dawn’s collaboration with the late Marisa Yudkin, a dancer who was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, resulted in a series of powerful duets which were presented at Jacob’s Pillow, the Brain Injury Association National Conference, and Tewksbury Hospital. Their collaboration was documented in the film Too Much to Stop, created by filmmaker John Whalan. As director of CATA’s Annual Performance, held each May at Shakespeare & Company, Dawn has led powerful productions that have shined a light on the talents of people with disabilities.

Dawn’s work as a choreographer and director at CATA has been recognized through numerous awards, including the New England Dance Fund from the New England Foundation for the Arts (2018), the Martha Boschen Porter Fund (2018), Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award Initiative & Creative Development Residency (2015), Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship in Choreography (2010), VSA International Arts Festival (2010), Massachusetts Alliance for Arts Distinguished Arts Educator in Dance (2007), and the LEF New England Artist Grant (2004).

Dawn helped to launch partnerships with local organizations serving people with disabilities, including Berkshire County Arc, Berkshire Health Systems, Riverbrook Residence, and the Berkshire Hills School District. These partnerships have continued and have now expanded to include 50 different agencies, residences, day-habilitation programs, and schools across Berkshire County and Columbia County.

Dawn Lane’s retirement comes at a time of growth and reimagining at the nonprofit. CATA’s arts programs and partnerships have grown dramatically over the last 6 years, including during the pandemic, and the organization recently conducted a highly successful capital campaign, leading to its first permanent home—a large, fully renovated and accessible new headquarters and studio in Great Barrington. In preparation for Dawn’s retirement, CATA has been working closely with consultants to complete an assessment of the organization’s staffing needs and to plan strategically for CATA’s future. CATA will be posting a position and hiring in the coming weeks.

About Community Access to the Arts: Community Access to the Arts (CATA) nurtures and celebrates the creativity of people with disabilities. Through dynamic arts workshops and public events—now taking place virtually—CATA artists tap into their potential, explore new talents, and share their unique points of view with the wider community. CATA collaborates with 50 partner organizations to bring visual and performing arts programs to 800 people with disabilities across Berkshire County, Massachusetts and Columbia County, New York. Learn more at