grunt’s Accessible, Exhibitions, Public Programming and Events project (AEPE) supports a radical development prototype, exploring access and accessible planning, community care and public programming, Disability Justice and non-hierarchical approaches to knowledge sharing and decision making. The cross departmental initiative provides leadership and labour to the grunt team as we explore access, justice, and care as an artist-run centre. The AEPE project is led by grunt’s Exhibitions and Accessibility Manager, Kay Slater, and our Accessibility and Events Manager, Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa, alongside the work of grunt’s accessibility committee which is composed of grunt staff across departments and is informed by the vision and priorities of the AEPE project. Check out this video introduction to the AEPE with English captions (click here to access the transcript):
Since the inception of the AEPE in 2021, programming and initiatives have included:
Low-Sensory and Voice-Off visiting hours hosted every Thursday, which prioritizes access to our exhibitions for folks who require a more quiet or non-verbal experience and are often excluded from spaces due to allergies and sensory challenges. Building upon our learnings, the AEPE has offered a workshop exploring the hows and whys of low-sensory and voice-off hosting for other arts organizations interested in this model.
The AEPE has similarly offered asynchronous, online workshops designed for artist-run centres, galleries, presentation spaces and artists to take tangible first steps towards building accessibility into their practices. In 2021, the Non-Auditory Access workshop series was launched, inviting participants to learn the basics of captioning and transcription for live and pre-recorded material. Check out the Non-Auditory Access workshop here. This spring, the AEPE launched the Hosting and Contemporary Care workshop, which walks participants through the who, why and how of designing events with multiple access points. Check out the Hosting and Contemporary Care workshop here.
To prioritize non-visual access to grunt’s exhibitions, the AEPE has been working alongside artists to develop visual descriptions of their work. Working with these descriptions and further insights from the artists, the AEPE has offered creative access audio tours of each exhibition presented at grunt since winter 2022, made available in-gallery via handheld audio devices, on our website and via SoundCloud. Check out the creative access audio tour for Syncretic Birthrights by Odera Igbokwe here. This on-going work has not only augmented access to our exhibitions, but has additionally allowed for grunt’s archive to become more rich and robust, documenting accessible practices, Disability inclusion, and examples for our artists to carry forward to other institutions.
grunt’s exhibitions have been additionally enhanced with the AEPE’s introduction of 360° virtual tours — explore Alison Bremner’s exhibition here; accessible PDF versions of our exhibition catalogs — check out the the accessible catalog doc for Cheyenne Rain LeGrande’s exhibition here; and tactile objects designed to evoke key elements of each exhibition.
This past winter, the AEPE piloted a Tactile Residency, providing space for participants to explore non-visual and tactile (touch) responses to works in the grunt gallery exhibition space and archives. The residency is a co-learning opportunity for grunt’s staff and community to explore how tactility can exist and play-out within predominantly visual spaces where touching and interacting with work is discouraged, forbidden, or not considered. For this prototype year, we welcomed two local artists, Johnny “Tiger” Tai and Jen Yakamovich, as tactile artists-in-residence to engage with us in conversation around what it means to be non-visual within a visual arts community.
The AEPE is in conversation with artists from the local Host Nations, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh, about Indigenous welcomes, protocols, and access. This began with hosting Manuel Axel Strain to talk about their families and histories on Musqueam land, about the adjacent waters to grunt and the waters that no longer exist where we work as uninvited guests, and about ways that we could engage with Strain’s family when we were gathering. This year, the AEPE and grunt have been working with Squamish artist and public art consultant Salia Joseph from Host Consulting, exploring both how to bring understanding of Indigenous sovereignty on these lands to non-MST/Indigenous Disabled folks, and how to make accessibility initiatives more present and reflective of ancestral teachings in this region.
The AEPE’s C-CARE initiative provides supplies and supports on-site at grunt that allow people to show up to events more fully and to meet a variety of needs. The supplies offered via C-CARE are regularly assessed according to the needs of staff and visitors, with staples including diapers and sanitary napkins, bandaids, sun screen, condoms, apple sauce and a hot water dispenser. These offerings help to make our facility more warm and welcoming, and responsive to the needs of those sharing the space at grunt.
The AEPE’s initiatives continue to develop and expand in response to grunt’s evolving communities and the learnings we engage in with them. Please reach out anytime with questions or feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org
The AEPE project has been made possible through funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and British Columbia Arts Council, thank you!