Putting Disability Arts on the BC cultural map
In 1997, a small group of artists and advocates with disabilities got together in Vancouver to talk about bringing disability arts to British Columbia. Key among them were filmmaker Bonnie Sherr Klein and disability activist Catherine Frazee. Inspired by a growing international disability arts movement, and by Canadian disability activist Catherine Frazee’s urging to find “both pleasure and politics in disability culture.” Among those gathered were two artists whose lives already exemplified that call – filmmaker Bonnie Klein, and sculptor/dancer Geoffrey McMurchy. As Bonnie Klein put it: “Living with disability is an art. Our various and unique disabilities compel us to create innovative paths around obstacles. In both content and form, we are taking risks that only we can take.”
They continued to meet, and by 1998, the first disability arts organization in Canada was born. Registered as the Society for Disability Arts and Culture (S4DAC), the nonprofit society’s goals were simple, but not easy: to support and promote artists with disabilities and to present disability arts festivals to BC audiences. The fledgling group pledged to present “authentic non-sentimental expressions of the disability experience,” to include all artistic disciplines, and to welcome all disabilities. People with disabilities were to comprise at least 50 percent of the board of directors. These have remained the organization’s guiding goals and principles through almost 20 years of building disability arts in Canada.
Kickstart’s mission is to produce and present works by artists with disabilities and to promote artistic excellence among artists with disabilities working in a variety of disciplines.
Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture (formerly the Society for Disability Arts and Culture) was incorporated November 1998 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Our objectives are:
to encourage and support artists to create and present authentic interpretations of the disability experience;
to provide opportunities for the development and advancement of artists with disabilities; and
to promote practices that will make the arts more accessible to all members of the Canadian public.