In Uncategorised

Artist Connect

October 20, 202120 October 2021

Deaf and disability arts

BEING Studio

Article Link

Organized by Ottawa-based BEING Studio, Artist Connect was “a series of online events” in early 2020 that brought together artists with disabilities from six Canadian communities. To enhance accessibility, event organizers created short video reports instead of preparing a conventional written report. As noted in one of the videos, “Artist Connect was a big community of artists, staff, and support workers collaborating to provide an online space that was accessible and supportive.”

The project’s insights into the perspectives of artists with disabilities and its tips regarding making online spaces as accessible as possible might be of interest to many artists and arts workers. The three videos, each between six and eight minutes long, are organized by theme: self-determination; interdependence; and connection.

The self-determination video explores “what a disability-led space looks like on Zoom”. The video describes an accessible discussion space as one where everyone feels safe and valued. In this context, meeting facilitation is important “to make space for more people to share their ideas”. Another strategy in this regard is to use breakout rooms “to make more opportunities for people to share”. In Artist Connect, however, that technique “had mixed results”, with some participants feeling disoriented by the timers on breakout screens. The video recognizes that, for artists, artwork is a different and “really important way to communicate”.

With the theme of interdependence, the second video “explores what it means to be recognized and appreciated”. The video links interdependence to support, which all humans give, receive, and need. Support can be multifaceted, involving encouragement, challenge, direction, materials, teaching, and inspiration. During the artists’ conversations, many participants spoke “about feeling seen, often ‘for the first time’.” People who are truly seen feel “recognized and appreciated for who [they] are”. The video outlines how organizers tried to create welcoming and supportive spaces, thereby allowing “for sharing, support, and inspiration”. One technique in this regard was making time for greetings at the beginning of each conversation.

The final video, on connection, “explores how Artist Connect brought people together and helped to create community”. The project offered structure, ideas, a place to connect and create, and a community, which is especially important during the pandemic. “Connection is the fabric of community…. Connection gives us strength, laughter, inspiration, and energy that continues to grow.” In coming together, the artists also helped create disability culture, where people are not frowned upon because they are different. The video shows how there is substantial diversity in the disabilities that people may have. (The 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability found that over 6 million Canadians 15 or older have a disability.)

Art can provide connections for and public understanding of disabled artists, who indicated that “we want to show our art, show how we are stronger … and bold…. Art will show to the public what we are right now in this world.”

Recent Resources
All archives by date