C Magazine

Crip Hope

any Canadian art institutions assert their desire to be considered gathering spaces for diverse communities while claiming tenets of inclusion and openness. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, most, if not all, were forced to close their doors to the public and find other ways of engaging with their audiences. The term “accessibility” has been circulated widely in order to encompass an alternative to the conventional institutional experience. While many organizations’ responsive new methods of engagement proved meaningful, they also served to eclipse demands for access that had been made consistently by disability arts communities for years. These ostensibly innovative methods of engagement include increased digital access to collections, livestream artist talks, virtual tours, and the digitization of publications, to name a few. In other words, the same practices that disabled, crip, Deaf, and neurodivergent artists and audiences had been requesting were suddenly being fast tracked for the convenience of the general—and non-disabled—public. In the process of reopening, institutions continue to make further operational adaptations, many of which would benefit disabled and chronically ill visitors, like wider paths of access (the suggested turning radius for a wheelchair is nearly that of social distancing), augmented sanitation practices, and a reduction in the number of

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