The 10th Anniversary Abilities Arts Festival was a potpourri of artists, art forms & events. Local, Canadian and International artists showcased works in photography, film, live performance and multi-media installation. Professional artists offered workshops and panel discussions on a variety of topics related to disability and artistic production and we even launched a new medium for storytelling: the podplay.
ARTrageous! 10th Anniversary Gala
City of Toronto Archives
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Abilities Arts’ 2012 Festival marked a decade of contribution to disability arts and culture. The ARTrageous! Gala was an opportunity to reflect on our success, while looking forward to our future. Many local businesses made donations to a successful silent auction held throughout the night. The celebration included an awards ceremony to honour the individuals and artists who helped us achieve this milestone. Recipients included Abilities’ Founding Member John Feld, Board Members Marion Feldman and Pouri Baghai, past board member Don Peuramaki, and founding Artistic Director Sharon Wolfe. Dancer Peggy Baker also presented a Creative Ingenuity Award to thirteen-year-old Remi Waxman, whose interest in disability and dance led her to donate all of the funds raised at her Bat Mitzvah to Abilities Arts Festival. Most significantly, Executive Director Rina Fraticelli announced the recipient of the inaugural Sharon Wolfe Artist in Residence, named in honour of Abilities’ founding artistic director. Multi-disciplinary artist Jan Derbyshire was named the Sharon Wolfe Artist in Residence, Canada’s first and only artistic residency specifically for an artist from the disability community.
Frames of Reference master class
September 21-October 11, 2012
Carlton Cinema Gallery
As part of our mission to provide professional development opportunities to artists with disabilities, Abilities Arts Festival held our second Frames of Reference master class in the spring of 2012. Toronto: Street Level was a culmination of the work created by the ten photographers who participated in the twelve-week Frames of Reference workshop with acclaimed Toronto photographer Vincenzo Pietropaolo. By exploring various neighborhoods (Kensington Market, Dundas Square) and events (the Achilles St. Patricks’s Day 5K Run/Walk and the Good Friday procession in Little Italy), Pietropaolo explained:
“[o]ur goal was to capture the nuances of city life, attempting to transmit in particular the humanism of a city that is still unsure of how to deal with accessibility issues for residents with disabilities.”
The photographs resulting from this workshop were so compelling, honest and unique that we simply had to include them in the 2012 Abilities Arts Festival. In addition to a three-week exhibit at the Carlton Cinema Gallery, Abilities Arts Festival published a book of Toronto: Street Level photographs and presented slideshows of the work during our Nuit Blanche installation. Perhaps most significantly, Toronto: Street Level photographs were presented on the sides of the Queen Streetcar, a commentary on the inaccessibility of this “public” transportation. Toronto: Street Level brilliantly captured the essence of Abilities Arts Festival’s purpose: to create opportunities for artists with disabilities to realize their talent; and for all of us to enjoy the benefits of their invaluable perspectives.
The photographers represented in Toronto: Street Level spanned a remarkable range of experiences, sensibilities, cultural backgrounds and aesthetic styles. With mentorship from Vincenzo Pietropaolo, the following photographers exhibited their work as a part of Toronto: Street Level: Mark Brose, Allan Cullen
Nicole Flynn, Natalia Isak, Steve Kean, Mike Monize, Jeff Nolan, Peter Owusu-Ansah, Dylan Smith, and Kathy Toth.
MIX Media Series
The film series was further expanded from the 2011 event to become a weekend-long media festival including three nights of screenings as well as panels and workshops led by professional artists. Guest curators Caglar Kimyoncu and Julie McNamara, co-founders of the London Disability Film Festival programmed a strong repertoire of international shorts by and about artists with disabilities.
A Queen Street Cartography
Part of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche
Saturday, September 29 2012
OCAD Open Gallery, 49 McCaul St.
Photo by Rudy Ens
Queen Street is a great “leveler.” The Queen Streetcar carries its cargo of life-long city dwellers and new arrivals of (almost) every stripe and class along the entire length of T.O.’s vibrant east-west corridor. What the Queen Car is not, however, is accessible. Not yet, anyway. A Queen Street Cartography was a mash-up of photography, performance, music and intimate “podplays” – an exploration and re-mapping of the city and its people through a disability lens. Led by BC comedian, media artist and performer Jan Derbyshire, a wildly diverse and highly accomplished company of musicians, storytellers and photographers presented a rich new map of Toronto’s iconic street. Photography from the Toronto: Street Level exhibit as well as “behind-the-scenes” pictures from the Frames of Reference master class were displayed on a number of projected slideshows while Donald Quan provided musical accompaniment. In the gallery theatre, we held screenings of the “podplays” -personal stories written by artists with disabilities and located in and around Queen street – coupled with photo narratives of the locations depicted in the stories.
The Listening Post
September 30 – Forever
On and around Queen St. West
Photo by Steve Kean
The Listening Post is an online collection of four “podplays” – site-specific personal stories taking place on and around Queen Street. The afternoon following our Nuit Blanche screenings of the podplays, we held an event to launch the online portion of the project. As of September 30th, the four podplays have been available for download free of charge on our website. Anyone is able to visit our website and participate in one of our podplay walks simply by downloading the podplay to an mp3 player, ipod or smartphone. The webpage for each podplay includes a map indicating the starting point for the story. The narrators of the stories then lead each individual audience member through the location in which their story takes place, shedding a new light on well-tread areas in Toronto’s downtown core. The performance is a cinematic and embodied experience – a remapping of Toronto from a disability perspective. For our launch event, we offered guided tours, popcorn and lent out ipods to audience members who did not have access to an mp3 player.