Canada Council for the Arts’ Deaf and disability arts strategy: Expanding the Arts 2012

The Canada Council for the Arts
Key objectives of the measure:

The barriers which may prevent Deaf Canadians and Canadians with disabilities from equally engaging in the arts are complex, systemic and diverse. Lack of access, whether it is physical, sensory or in decision-making, is a connected yet separate issue from promoting and recognizing Deaf arts or disability arts. Furthermore, promoting and ensuring equal opportunities for Deaf Canadians or Canadians with disabilities to engage in the arts is an issue which is directly influenced, affected by and dependent on the entire arts ecology.

Expanding the Arts is a strategy created by the Canada Council for the Arts which aims to develop better internal processes and measures to counter systemic barriers experienced by Deaf artists and artists with disabilities and those working in deaf arts and disability arts sectors. These processes also aim to advance the Council’s knowledge of the diverse Deaf arts and disability arts communities, artistic practices and changes in these milieux. Furthermore, this strategy aims to foster and promote greater opportunities for Canadians who are Deaf or who have disabilities to enjoy and engage in the arts.

The Canada Council has a history of embedding values of equity within its operations. The practice of linguistic duality, the investment in regional artistic institutions, the creation of the Aboriginal Arts and Equity Offices, as well as equitable practices within policy development, grant programs and processes, have all contributed to its diverse and vital arts ecology. The Council has equity policies that cross the whole organization as well as dedicated programs for arts communities facing sizable barriers to arts production and access.

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Scope of the measure:
Nature of the measure:
Main feature of the measure:

In keeping with the Canada Council’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusive policies, it was determined that developing a strategy on Deaf and disability arts specific to the Canada Council was a priority. The strategy provides definitions, background and context, including Canadian and international legislation, and information about the Council’s consultation process.

To achieve its objectives, the strategy prioritizes three main focus areas, with specific goals for each area:

1. Increasing access, support and participation in Canada Council programs

- The Council and its programs are accessible to artists, arts professionals and arts organizations.

- Deaf people and people with disabilities participate and are supported throughout the Council, and its staff is comfortable and conversant with access support and protocols.

2. Recognizing, supporting and promoting Deaf and disability arts

- The artistic practices of Deaf artists and artists with disabilities are supported and advanced through Canada Council programs.

- Increased opportunities to Deaf artists and artists with disabilities in arts organizations.

- Knowledge and social discourse are raised on the topics of Canadian Deaf and disability arts.

3. Encouraging the public engagement of Canadians who are Deaf or who have disabilities in arts and culture

- Increased engagement in the arts for Canadians who are Deaf or who have disabilities. 

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Results expected through the implementation of the measure:

Expanding the Arts is an important step forward for the Canada Council for the Arts in terms of reaching its overarching commitment to contribute to, advance and support a vital and diverse arts ecology. Through this strategy, the Council will be better able to recognize and serve the breadth of Canada’s artistic communities, and remove barriers to arts funding support. Ultimately this will ensure that Council funding gives maximum impact and value to all Canadians.

There have already been successful partnerships between the Canada Council and artists who are Deaf or who have disabilities, allowing these artists to successfully apply for and receive funding for their projects. For example, in 2014 a unique arts organization called “Spill” (“Propagation” in French) from Gatineau, Québec, received Council support for a five-day forum hosted by internationally-renowned artist Jolanta Lapiak. The forum’s objective was to identify and construct a new art practice from the perspective of Deaf people. Spill also received support from the Council’s Leadership for Change program to do research to strengthen its organizational model.

Financial resources allocated to implement the measure:

Between 2011 and 2014 the Council awarded a total of $1,992,989 CAD in grants to Deaf and disability arts organizations and individuals. In addition, $284,082 CAD was awarded in access support, which was identified as a strategic priority in the Expanding the Arts strategy. Access support is a supplement provided to successful grant recipients who are Deaf or have disabilities and who identify specific access requirements which are related to barriers faced in their proposed artistic activities and/or as part of travel. The purpose is to assist arts professionals who have access-related needs to complete their proposed activity.

Goal(s) of UNESCO's 2005 Convention
Cultural Domain(s)