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Canada Council for the Arts

Breaking into Broken Systems: On Being Marginalized, and the “Politics of Refusal”

by Rea McNamara on May 31, 2016
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On a sunny Sunday afternoon, the second floor of Toronto’s Theater Center was packed with artists for the panel DAMNED IF YOU DO: A Conversation on the Politics of Refusal. Co-presented by local artist-run center Whippersnapper Gallery, the panel focused on stories and strategies from the trenches of the “marginalized”: namely, the tricky pursuit of navigating art and funding systems as an “artist of colour” or “visible minority” or whatever fraught PC term can describe what it means to be a racialized body in the art world.

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This is What Accessible, Barrier-Free Curating Looks Like

by Rea McNamara on May 27, 2016
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Toronto, as a whole, is not a very accessible city. While institutions like the Art Gallery of Ontario have multi-sensory and ASL interpreter tours, there are still stairs everywhere, and it’s not uncommon for smaller galleries or artist-run spaces to apologetically note their washrooms aren’t wheelchair accessible.

Over the past five years, though, there’s been a rise in art that addresses disabilities and madness, not to mention a demand that its paces are truly barrier-free. Last month, Harbourfront Center mounted Cripping the Stage: A Disability Arts Cabaret featuring local disabled artists like jes sachse, Syrus Marcus Ware and Lynx Sainte-Marie.

The event was co-presented by the British Council and Tangled Art + Disability. The local performing arts cum multidisciplinary non-profit supports artists with disabilities, and now has a new exhibition space. And it’s not just any space. They’ve moved into 401 Richmond, a building filled with high profile artist-run centers like A Space, YYZ and Gallery 44. It’s an entrenched arts hub that’s doesn’t just give a gallery space to any organization.  

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Quit the Art World? There’s a Residency for That

by Rea McNamara on May 12, 2016
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When an artist stops making work and attending shows, is there any chance the art world will remember them? No. For many, this just means one less artist to compete against for a grant application or open call.

Enter Residency For Artists on Hiatus (RFAOH), an organization dedicated to supporting artists who have put their practice on hold. During the course of the online residency, which lasts six months to a year, artists must produce a non-art project. Artists are then expected to maintain a blog on the residency’s website to not only reflect on and document the process, but examine what it means to suspend their art careers. (I wrote about the virtual residency program a few months ago.) Earlier this year, the residency was on hiatus itself: the project has largely been self-funded by co-directors Shinobu Akimoto and Matthew Evans, and they were awaiting news of institutional support. Last week, RFAOH announced their third open call for applications to its 2016/2017 programme, thanks to funding from the Canada Council for the Arts.

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