Able-ism and Ageism during the Covid Pandemic & Beyond

Over the past couple of years, I have been on a learning journey with the question, what do I want to do for the next three to five years to earn an income?

The overwhelming answer to this question is that I would like to go back to what I was doing professionally from 1990–2005. During this time, I held a number of positions at the nexus point between culture and politics.

Select positions included Co-Director of the Forest City Galley, President of the London Arts Council, Heritage and Museum Coordinator for the City of London as well as Special Projects Coordinator for the Computer Science Department of Western University in Ontario Canada.

Since then, I have been very interested in how computers, new digital technologies can create prosperity for the Canadian economy and increase global prosperity for all Canadians. Additionally, I’ve worked in positions in local economic development, while enjoying travel, art galleries and museums with friends and family.

When I was in my twenties I had a number of motor vehicle accidents that left my body with some muscle damage to my neck and lower back. This physical condition has been an important part of discernment process of what I would like the next ten years to look like. I would prefer not to have to work through pain to earn a living and find a way to use my skills and experience to learn new ideas and skills to help those sectors of society that are important to me.

Earlier today, I was examining some key resources for the disabled and the world of culture that I love. When I reflect on what it might be like for others who have a non-visible disability, I wanted to share my story to see if others might be asking similar questions.

  • There are a number of interesting options in the Toronto-based art gallery TangledArtsTO. They describe themselves on twitter as “@TangledArtsTO — Canada’s new art gallery dedicated to showcasing disability art and advancing accessible curatorial practices” . You might want to take a look at their summer newsletter for more information — https://mailchi.mp/b6e67bd5500b/tangled-art-disability-summer-newsletter.
  • The Cripsters is a monthly Akimblog feature on disability and culture from the point of view of people with disabilities. For examples of previous articles go to https://akimbo.ca/akimblog/?fwp_categories_list=the-cripsters A writer’s fee is paid. There is no deadline. Submissions are accepted on an ongoing basis. Please email proposals in the form of a short synopsis or outline to Kim Fullerton at kimful@akimbo.ca

On August 10th, I spoke to Sean Lee at Tangled Arts about past and upcoming programming for their organization. The discussion helped to clarify their priorities in terms of adapting to COVID for some of their artists who might be immune compromised. I also gained more information regarding the importance of building a curatorial lens and cultural community for disabled artists. It was great to hear about the role that Tangled Arts has played in building artist careers in this area. Sean also mentioned another group called the Creative Users that has historically hosted an annual arts event called CRIP INTERIORS.

I remain very interested in the role that digital strategy can play in helping cultural organizations reach new audiences and sources of revenue. I have been listening to many online discussions that have suggested that art galleries and museums have an important role to play as a ‘safe place’ in discussions around indigenous people, BIPOC, LGBTQ and income inequality. I would like to work with other cultural workers who are on a similar learning journey and trajectory.

Many people are hopeful that the ‘new normal’ post Covid physical distancing protocols will be an opportunity to move beyond systems that are not working anymore. Some sources that I reviewed today have indicated that up to 1/4 of the population are currently disabled or temporarily disabled.

Victoria Stasiuk — Arts and Culture Consultant

Sometimes I have scheduled mini-vacations that have cultural activities included. I have noticed that I do not feel pain during these moments of discovery and shared experiences with others, as well as friends and family.

Please reach out to me or others that you think share the same vision, so we can co-create a future together that is inclusive and positive while using arts and culture to remain open to the possibilities for seeding, cultivating and harvesting our shared common ground as human beings.

Victoria Stasiuk
twitter — @vicstasiuk
website — https://victoriastasiuk.ca
linkedin — https://www.linkedin.com/company/65838456/admin/

Arts & Culture Consultant — Working with cultural organizations seeking to increase audience engagement & interaction through digital transformation