The annual Abilities Arts Festival started last month in Toronto. The intent of the festival is to bring the vision of artists with disabilities to the attention of the wider community—giving people with disabilities opportunities to showcase their talents in dance, photography, theatre, comedy, music, film, painting, and other types of performance.
The central theme of this year`s festival is storytelling, as a reminder that telling tales lies at the heart of all creativity.
The festival features a visual art exhibit, film screenings, workshops, a walk featuring different stories and experiences told throughout the city, and an exhibit at Nuit Blanche about the Queen Street streetcar and its inaccessibility.
The film screenings were not what you would expect. A lot of times when you go to an event relating to the disability community, you would expect to see films on issues facing people with disabilities. Instead the Abilities Arts Festival takes issues you would normally see at a film festival, like war, love, sexuality and family and sees them through the eyes of the filmmaker with a disability. Rather than showcasing people with disabilities as a separate group of people with separate problems, the festival shows the beautiful work of people with disabilities, and welcomes the community to see the issues that affect all of our lives through their eyes.
Events like this do a great job at countering ableism by making its message easy to relate to, as well as providing an audience for some very talented artists with disabilities. Best of all, most events are free, so you can counter capitalism at the same time.
If you haven`t seen any of the festival yet, don`t fret. Some events are continuing until October 11, 2012. For more information check out http://abilitiesartsfestival.org/