Accessing the Arts Focus Groups

Poster advertising the project.
Graphic image poster in shades of purple, white, and black. Text at the top says “Paid opportunity for disabled artists.” Image of a laptop in the middle says “Accessing the Arts Focus Groups.” The Bodies in Translation and Creative Users Projects logos are along the bottom.

As part of the Accessing the Arts initiative, Bodies in Translation and our research partners Creative Users Projects are working with communities across Canada in the co-creation of a digital strategy that removes barriers in the arts and creates more opportunities for people with disabilities to experience and access the arts. 

From April 24 – May 20, 2020, we are hosting a series of virtual co-design thinking workshops facilitated by guest artists to open conversation and share our stories around what it means to access artistic experiences. 

Participants will be asked to consider and discuss the following questions, to explore how our community is participating in the arts sector pre- and post-COVID-19:

  • Tell us a story about a memorable artistic experience (either as a creator or an audience, or both). What made it so memorable/impactful/impressionable?
  • What are the most important factors that drive you to choose one event or opportunity over another?
  • How have you (as an artist or patron) and your community been responding, or what kind of responses have you seen, to the current situation?

These sessions are prioritized for disability-identified community members. Individuals who are selected to participate will be paid $100. 2-hour workshops will be limited to 6 participants, and 1-hour workshops will be limited to 3 participants. The workshop sessions will be recorded for research purposes only.

Submit your expression of interest to participate in a focus group (Google form)


Artist Facilitators

Yousef Kadoura

Yousef Kadoura was born in the midwestern United States and raised in Ottawa Ontario, he is a Lebanese Canadian actor, writer, producer, and curator as well as a right leg below knee amputee. Yousef is a graduate of the Acting (2017) program at the National Theatre School of
Canada. Since moving to Toronto from Montreal he has worked as the Curator-in-residence at Tangled Art + Disability co-curating the Flourishing series in 2018. He was also the producer and creator of the podcast series Walking the Space (2017) a three part podcast exploring disability in Canadian theatre.

Yousef is also a founding company member of Other He/Arts a new performance collective which came together initially as a producing vehicle for the Yousef’s show, One Night, in Aluna Theatre’s Caminos festival (2019). As an artist Yousef seeks to draw from a plurality of experiences and disciplines to expand the boundaries of performance in pursuit of accessibility, presence and shared experience. 

H. Jordyn Taylor

H. Jordyn Taylor is a Toronto artist and disability rights activist. After getting her start showing her work in LGBT youth art shows, Jordyn studied drawing and painting at the Academy of Art Canada in 2010. While continuing to refine her skills as an artist, Jordyn got involved in the disability arts community and the Cripping the Arts movement beginning in 2015. Since then, she has been focusing on illustrative work that explores themes of chronic mental and physical illness, challenging societal notions of disability and bodily integrity. Jordyn actively participates in gallery shows at Super Wonder Gallery and The Freedom Factory, the latter of which hosted her first solo show in February 2019.

Jessica Watkin

Jessica Watkin is an interdisciplinary artist-scholar, PhD candidate at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies. Her dissertation is about Disabled Artists in Canada and how they make performance, care structures, and Disability Dramaturgy. She is an Accessibility Consultant and Designer, fAcilitator, Educator, and creative Problem Solver. She works with the British Council to facilitate Relaxed Performance and Disability Justice trainings.

Chris Dodd

Chris Dodd is an Edmonton based Deaf performing artist, playwright, accessibility advocate and Governor General Innovation Award finalist. He is the founder and artistic director of Canada’s national theatre festival dedicated to the Deaf performing arts, SOUND OFF. He is an artistic associate with Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre and is one of their Playwrights in Development. His solo show, “Deafy”, is currently touring and will later be published by Playwrights Canada Press in 2021. Other acting credits include “Queen Seraphina and the Land of Vertebraat” with Saskatoon’s Sum Theatre, “Gravity” with Edmonton’s Theatre Yes and “Ultrasound” at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille. Chris holds a degree from the University of Alberta’s Drama program. He was recently the recipient of the Guy Laliberté Prize for innovation and creative leadership by the Canada Council of the Arts. 

Erin Ball

Erin Ball is a circus artist and coach based in Kingston, Ontario. She runs and owns Kingston Circus Arts. Erin is a mover and storyteller who focuses on aerial arts and some ground acrobatics. She took a year off in March 2014 due to life changing events that resulted in having both lower legs removed. She has since returned to her passion of training, coaching and performing. She loves collaborating, adapting and creating new/different ways of executing skills. In 2017, she developed a workshop and manual, called Flying Footless, a course for aerial coaches who want to work adaptively and make their teaching more inclusive. Though it was not immediate, Erin has really embraced being a part of the Disability community. She has won accessibility awards, hosts a ground-breaking yearly amputee circus camp and has taught and performed internationally.

Aislinn Thomas

Aislinn Thomas is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice includes video, performance, sculpture, installation, and text. She culls material from everyday experiences and relationships, creating work that ranges from poignant to absurd (at times straddling both). Her recent works explore the generative nature of disability while pushing up against conventional standards of access.

Recent exhibitions include Draft Systems WRO Media Arts Biennial in Wroclaw, Poland; TALK BACK at Flux Factory in Queens, New York; and commissioned projects for the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery and the Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Aislinn is a settler of Ashkenazi and British descent. She lives and works on the Haldimand Tract, land promised to the Six Nations near the Grand River in Ontario, Canada.

Wy Joung Kou

Wy Joung Kou is a queer, chronically ill, multi-disciplinary artist based in Tkaronto. As a performer, their experience spans from spoken word, to dance, to movement, to sound. As a mosaic artist, they are a poet, turned visual-tactile storyteller. Their stories are ones told in languages of colour, texture, grit, and feeling. Grounded in a disability justice framework centering accessibility, community and interdependence, their artistic practice is interwoven with personal narratives of grief, diaspora, care, illness, and intimacy. Kou’s educational trajectory as a professional artist has followed a path combining mentorship and community-models of learning, skill exchange, and collaborative process. They are the founder of the Sick & Disabled Queer Zine Fair (Tkaronto, 2018-19), the inaugural winner of the JRG Grant for Artist with Disabilities (2018), and are a member of RAW – Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers.