So I had the opportunity over the week-end to take part in another totally amazing event. Though, actually, I wasn’t there in person this time, but listened in via Livestream. LOL I didn’t quite manage to squeeze in before they closed the registration, so I couldn’t actually be there! But it actually worked out well, as I’m not sure I really had the energy to do another intensive week-end. So it was actually great to be able to listen from home! 🙂 Thanks, therefore, hugely for making that available! Much appreciated!
Anyway, the event was a symposium called Cripping The Arts In Canada that was jointly put on by Tangled Art + Disability and the British Council of Canada. And it was all about how to promote Deaf and Disabled art and artists, and how to create an environment where Deaf/Disabled arts and culture can thrive. It was really fantastic! Unfortunately, LOL there were some issues with the Livestream as there can be with technology, so I didn’t catch everything. Plus, I wasn’t able to listen to the final day on Saturday as I needed to try to get an article done (thank God they’ve given me a further extension on it LOL, as that didn’t quite happen). But those sessions I did hear rocked!
Some of the highlights included a fabulous keynote talk to open the symposium on Thursday morning by Ruth Gould of DaDaFest from Liverpool in the U.K. And Wow! It sounds amazing! It’s a Deaf and Disability arts festival that’s been running for 15 years now, and these days gets over 100-thousand (I believe she said) visitors! Amazing! So it was awesome to hear about that and all they’ve accomplished. Then, that was followed by a really interesting series of panels and discussions on funding and finding/creating accessible spaces for Deaf and Disabled arts and artists. Lots of really useful and inspiring stuff that I’ll post more about later!
So then, on day 2, the symposium switched focus to looking at what is/are Deaf and Disability arts. Lots more really awesome discussions! Unfortunately, I missed most of the opening panel due to technical issues with the Livestream. But, from the end of it that I caught and the tweets I read, it seemed to be discussing the issue/s of non-disabled people using disability/disabled characters/disabled people in their art, and whether/to what extent that’s speaking for us rather than with us. Very important, especially when there are so many awesome Disabled and Deaf artists out there struggling to have their work recognized! Then, that was followed by a talk on Disability podcasting and its role in creating and bring together Disability culture/s. Again, very cool! Some great podcasts I’m dying to check out now!
Then, in the afternoon, there was a really interesting panel on a topic dear to my own heart and process – the role of pedagogy in Disability and Deaf arts. So it really explored the issue of the extent to which Deaf/Disability arts are/should be/can be about helping people learn and open their minds to issues around ableism and other forms of social in/justice. And it also considered what role curators of Deaf and Disability arts can/should play in making those arts pedagogical/bringing forth their pedagogical aspects. Very interesting for me as a an artist whose work frequently engages political/justice issues while trying to avoid being didactic!
Then, on the Saturday, they had what was described as a “community brain-storm” to try to come up with solutions for some of the issues raised throughout the symposium. And, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to listen to that because I needed to work on that article. But I was really glad, nonetheless, to hear they were doing it! It’s really great that they tried to bring practical solutions out of the week-end as well as just great discussion. And, apparently, they’ll be producing a resource-guide/handbook type thing out of that brain-storm session. So I’ll definitely be keeping a listen out for that!
🙂 Then, that night, they capped off the week-end with an absolutely amazingly awesome Disability arts cabaret called “Cripping The Stage”. And, being a cabaret, it featured everything from stand-up comedy to performance-art to hiphop. And all the performers were, as they say in the U.K., bloody brilliant! The performance pieces were really powerful, and the comedy had me laughing my ass off! And no, this time I wasn’t performing myself alas. Bummer! But hopefully in future I will. I’d love to have that opportunity! It’d be a huge honour to be on stage with such incredibly talented fellow Crip artists and performers! And I really hope they do this again, both the cabaret and the symposium itself! A lot of great stuff came out of both, and it’d be great to keep the momentum going!