Artist Community Login Donate


Connect with us

ArtStarts in Schools Logo

September 19, 2022

How an ArtStarts exhibition transformed the way we deliver programs

School children interacting with ArtStarts touring exhibition

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.

Bringing the exhibition to young people

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.

concept drawing of 'WHERE AM I?' on a school grounds

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.

Expanding the exhibition’s access

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.

Young people stand around a plinth on a school grounds

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:

  • Visual: High contrast colours in the illustrations and text for exhibition participants who are blind or low vision. Additional considerations for colour-blindness were considered and colours were limited to black, white, and colours from the Okabe-Ito palette.
  • Physical: Step-free access for all install locations with enough space surrounding the exhibition to ensure mobility devices have enough room to navigate around it. 
  • Non-auditory: Captions on all exhibition content.
  • Language: Instructions on how to use Google Translate to access the digital exhibition for different language learners. 
  • Geographic: Spread out host school locations to ensure wider reach across Metro Vancouver during a time when field trips and local travel was limited. 
  • Inclusion: Cultural accessibility was also a priority with graphics designed to include and celebrate bodies from a variety of cultures and identities.

Take part in our upcoming exhibition

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.

In the meantime, check out this video highlighting the process that brought PIP to life.

ArtStarts is grateful for the Community Gaming Grant support on these exhibitions. 

Social Sharing

Past Stories