September 19, 2022
The past 2.5 years have presented many challenges for the ArtStarts Gallery team. Despite these challenges, the limitations provided the space to implement many of the accessibility best practices the team had been dreaming of long before the pandemic. This created opportunities for the organization to deliver engaging and insightful arts experiences to young people across the province in intentional, generative, and transformative ways.
One of the Gallery team’s most innovative programming, resulting from the pandemic, was the launch of a touring exhibition, ‘WHERE AM I?’. The exhibition transformed the way we deliver our programs by continuing to expand our commitment to making our programs accessible to diverse learners while complying with COVID restrictions by creating an exhibition for both online and in-person audiences.
In the winter of 2021, the Gallery team began planning the ‘WHERE AM I?’ exhibition. With accessibility in mind, the team developed an exhibition that prioritized accessibility from many different angles including geographic, audio-visual, and language accessibility. We then invited schools to sign up to host the touring exhibition in their schools. The response was overwhelming.
The positive response to the touring exhibition was likely a result of a desire for engaging in arts-based activities safely. Early in 2022, as students returned to school from winter break, COVID restrictions limited schools' opportunities to take field trips. The first phase of the ‘WHERE AM I?’ exhibition launched at a crucial time, providing opportunities for young people to explore arts-based learning without leaving school.
The exhibition premiered on our website and made its first physical stop at Hamilton Elementary in late February. From there, the exhibition made stops at Gilmore Elementary, Morley Elementary, Twelfth Avenue Elementary, and Cove Cliff Elementary. The second phase of the exhibition took place at several community centres in Vancouver, including Roundhouse, Moberly, and Britannia.
By providing the exhibition to both digital and in-person audiences, young people from across the province were able to take part in “WHERE AM I?”. Overall, more than 1,500 visitors experienced 'WHERE AM I?' during the first and second phases of the exhibition.
Access went beyond the location of the exhibition. The ArtStarts Gallery team also worked to make the exhibition accessible to all types of learners by incorporating the following elements:
We’re launching a new exhibition in mid-November. The exhibition, titled PIP, is the result of a youth insight engagement process ArtStarts undertook in July 2022 with youth aged 12-17. PIP explores themes of anti-bullying, embracing one’s uniqueness, and developing empathy for different perspectives.
We’re currently accepting applications from elementary schools across the Lower Mainland. Educators interested in having ‘PIP’ make a stop at their school can apply. Learn more about exhibition details, tour dates, and how to sign up here. We are accepting applications until 11:59pm on October 14.
ArtStarts is grateful for the Community Gaming Grant support on these exhibitions.
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