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Civic Impact

Cripping the Arts examines Canadian cultural production through a different lens

Carmen Papalia's Blind Field Shuttle leads participants through public space and sound installations.

“Disability arts has a forty-five year history in Canada but currently there is a groundswell of interest in disability arts. It seems that everyone wants to program disability arts right now,” says Eliza Chandler, Artistic Director of Tangled Art + Disability and the programmer of Cripping the Arts, next weekend’s symposium devoted to the topic of disability and the arts in Canada. “We wanted to create an opportunity for cultural producers, both inside and outside of disability arts, to come together and discuss how to curate in an accessible way, the current aesthetic trends in disability arts, and how disability arts is connected to social  justice.”

The inaugural symposium, which will be held at Ryerson University, sold out in twelve hours. Free to Deaf and disabled attendees, the two-day event aims to explore the related topics of accessibility and aesthetics in communities that produce and consume Deaf and disabled arts. The symposium will open with a keynote address by Ruth Gould, founding artistic director of the disability arts festival DaDaFest. “In the UK, there are federal government funding structures in place that support disability artists, and this support has led to a more developed disability arts culture,” says Chandler. During the day, topics of discussion will include different regional aesthetics in Deaf and disabled arts communities, issues of curatorial interest, and ensuring accessibility across the arts.

One of Chandler’s goals for the symposium is the development of a toolkit for Canadian arts producers. Tangled Arts will collect ideas generated over the weekend and make them available on their website as “guidelines for how to program disability arts and produce accessible events.” The ultimate goal is to bring disability arts into the limelight. “We hope that cultural producers have increased exposure to the disability arts talent in Toronto and across Canada, and are better equipped to program accessible events,” she says.
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