Darrel Tillar Mason Award

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In 2022, the disAbility Law Center of Virginia we will honor an individual whose work has promoted the inclusion or support of people with disabilities in the arts – dance, theatre, painting, sculpture, pottery – any form of art! The Darrel Tillar Mason Excellence in Advocacy Award is named in honor of a notable and longstanding advocate for people with disabilities. In past years we have been able to present this in recognition of the amazing advocacy work done with and on behalf of people with disabilities all across the Commonwealth. But, like so many things, this award was placed on hold during the worst of the COVID epidemic. We are excited bring its return this year.

dLCV knows the power of art to overcome isolation and fear. That is why, as we reflect on these past few years of pandemic living, we want to honor someone who has been a beacon of hope and inclusion through the arts. We especially seek a nominee whose efforts towards inclusion in the arts supports the principles embodied in the mission of the dLCV:

to advance independence, choice and self-determination; protect legal, human and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation.


A nominee for dLCV’s Darrel Tillar Mason Excellence in Advocacy Award should have demonstrated effective support of the principles embodied in the mission of the dLCV by their advocacy. The nominator should specify which aspects of the dLCV’s mission have been the focus of the nominee’s advocacy.

The selection committee recognizes the importance of a family member’s tireless advocacy for his or her family member with a disability. Likewise, we recognize the importance of dedicated workers employed by agencies, companies, or organizations who faithfully serve individuals with disabilities. We also recognize there are many people with disabilities who perform in the arts and are talented in their own right. However, we are seeking to bestow this award on an individual who has gone beyond doing a great job for a family member or an employer, or as an artist. The committee is interested in honoring an individual whose advocacy or representation has had an impact on the larger disability community, which can include the nominated person.

When we think of advocacy in the arts in the context of the dLCV mission, some ideas are those who create accessible opportunities for children, youth, or adults with disabilities to perform in the arts, like a dance troupe or theatre company. There are also people who provide accessible art spaces for people with disabilities to use to create their own art forms. Think also of how the arts can help us heal. Like art therapists who help children, youth, and/or adults with disabilities. Alternatively, the desired impact could be related to local, state or national volunteer initiatives that provide services to individuals with disabilities or raise the public’s awareness of the need for new, additional, or improved services.

There are those who make changes so people with disabilities have the independence to participate in the arts. This could be someone who adapted a structure so people with disabilities can observe or perform art. Another impact could be related to local, state, or national policies or regulation – support of, or opposition to. For example, an elected official who championed a policy or regulation benefitting the disability community or defeated one that did not, or a lobbyist who educated elected officials and motivated the introduction of the positive policy or regulation, or a private citizen who worked to encourage public support for the policy or regulation, would all be worthy nominees.

Volunteer, personal efforts, and paid work are all eligible endeavors.

The selection committee will give favorable consideration to advocacy over a sustained period.

We are looking to support individuals, not businesses, governments, or non-profits.

Nominees must be nominated for their impact in Virginia.

How to Nominate

Do you know someone who qualifies?

To nominate someone (including yourself or a small group of individuals), send us a letter describing your candidate’s qualifications for the award. The submission should be no more than five pages, and include the complete nomination form or a document with that information. Nominations are due electronically to specialevents@dlcv.org by May 31, 2022. Finalists and those who nominated them will be notified by June 1, 2022

The award will be presented at the Midsummer Night’s Gala celebration on June 17, 2022, to be held at the Glen Allen Cultural Arts Center in Glen Allen, Virginia. Click here for more information about this Gala.

Thank you for considering this opportunity to honor someone for their excellence in advocacy for people with disabilities in the arts, and for your continuing support of the rights of ALL Virginians with disabilities!