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Cripping the Arts

January 2019

Held at the Harbourfront Centre over three days, the 2019 Cripping the arts symposium gathered people who share a belief that Deaf, Disability, and Mad arts and activism change not only how we understand difference, but also how we create and experience arts and culture.

This event asserted a disability politic of “cripping the arts”. When we crip, we “open up with desire for the ways that disability disrupts,” as disability studies activist Kelly Fritsch says. When we “crip the arts,” we pay attention to the different ways that Deaf, Disabled, and Mad artists and audiences contribute to, create, and experience culture, making Canada’s art sector more inclusive, innovative, and dynamic, establishing new standards of artistic excellence. Our art disrupts normative understandings of difference, creating a multiplicity of intersectional representations as well as opportunities to experience arts and culture in new ways.

Over three days, we shared space with artists, activists, researchers, and arts council officers in panel discussions, co-creative workshops, keynotes, an exhibition, a multi-sensory installation, and evening performances. Through live streaming coverage of our daytime programming, we explored emerging Deaf, Disability, and Mad cultural practices and expanded our art and ideas to an international audience. We delved into our futures together as they relate to topics around accessible practices in the arts, art, and activism in a digital world, exploring new models of leadership, and working in solidarity between disability rights, disability justice, decoloniality, and Indigenous sovereignty.

Cripping the Arts 2019 was co-hosted and presented by British Council, Creative Users Projects, Tangled Art + Disability, Ryerson University, Harbourfront Centre, and Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life.