Disability Atlantic Arts Symposium debuts online Oct. 22-24

The Disability Atlantic Arts Symposium (DAAS) will be an online gathering that brings Atlantic-Canadian Disability-identified artists together for the first time.

Goal of three-day event is to unify Disability Arts community in Atlantic Canada

The Disability Atlantic Arts Symposium (DAAS) is an online gathering bringing together Atlantic-Canadian Disability-identified artists for the first time.

Taking place on Oct. 22-24,  the symposium will consist of three panel discussions: "Funding Access: Where's the Money?", "A Conversation with Funders" and "Strange Avenues". 

The event closes with an exciting Cabaret line-up of drag, burlesque, spoken word, poetry, performance art, comedy and a circus act.

DAAS promises a thoughtful setting for discovering new artists and opportunities, and sharing insights and stories—all with the goal of unifying the undeniable Disability arts community in Atlantic Canada.

The Symposium provides ASL interpreting, closed captioning, transcripts and a mix of visual descriptions and integrated audio descriptions.

We caught up with members of the symposium's planning committee from each Atlantic province and asked: "What does it mean for you to have the Disability Atlantic Arts Symposium happening for the first time?"

(Courtesy Paul Power)

Paul Power, Newfoundland and Labrador

"The Disability Atlantic Arts Symposium is an important step in strengthening and building a stronger network of support, creation and collaboration among artists in Atlantic Canada who identify as living with a disability." Power says. "For far too long support, recognition and awareness for our sector has primarily existed in larger, more urban parts of the country. 

"By formally developing opportunities to gather and share, we can further representation and opportunity for under-represented artists in our Atlantic Canadian communities. Most importantly, this initiative is led by artists who identify as living with a disability, which ensures that programming, priorities and practices are based on informed viewpoints from those who have valuable lived experience."

(Courtesy April Hubbard)

April Hubbard, Nova Scotia

"DAAS is important because it is the first time that we as disabled artists are able to feel a sense of belonging! We won't have to do it all alone," Hubbard says. "As a performing artist living with disability, in order to participate I have to write scripts, create choreography, design costumes, book space, find funding, gather a cast and crew—while being performer, editor, director and producer all rolled into one. 

"We cannot simply create art, we have to fill every role on the team; our art is always political and our narrative is expected to represent every member of the disability community. This makes the artistic process at once fulfilling and exhausting.

"There are a small number of us fighting against the odds to tell our stories through our Disability Art, but geographic separation and further societal segregation based on types of disability is isolating," Hubbard says. "The Disability Atlantic Arts Symposium is designed by disabled artists to provide space where we can support one another, learn from one another, be inspired by each other, and encourage those who are finding innovative ways to create unique art, despite all the odds!"

(Courtesy Ysabelle Vautour)

Ysabelle Vautour, New Brunswick

"This is something I have wanted for the past few years now, so I'm very much looking forward to it. So far I have been creating on my own, but I would love to collaborate with other artists on disability arts projects," Vautour says.

"I think it's important to have a community so we can talk about the issues we are facing, and find out how we can grow in our professional development. Sometimes artists need help to put things together and it's good to be able to share resources."

Alexis Bulman, Prince Edward Island

(Courtesy Alexis Bulman)
"From 2017 to 2020 I was living in Montreal, working as an artist. I was new to the city and didn't really have any friends or speak the language. Despite this, it didn't take me long to find my community, a community of disability artists, organizers, activists and more," Bulman says.

"I credit events and programs like Vibe: transforming ableism and audism through the arts, a 3-day international symposium supported by Concordia's CDSWG; Interrogating Access Residency, supported by Spectrum Productions and OBORO; and the in-kind support programs offered at the MAI Alliance."

"My creative career and personal life benefited enormously from all these experiences — and that's what I hope DAAS will do for artists here in Atlantic Canada. I moved home to P.E.I. in late 2020, and once again I'm starting over in a way, so I can't wait for the Disability Atlantic Arts Symposium to meet disability-identified artists that live and work here and start to find that sense of community again! My hope is that DAAS will kick-start a "trend" of Disability Arts events, support programs and opportunities, so that our creative careers can thrive here."