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Listen to Dis raising funds for their biggest year yet

author: mac brock | a&c editor

Listen to Dis teamed up with Red Nose Knows at the 2015 Cathedral Village Arts Festival. Photo credit: Carey Shaw
Listen to Dis teamed up with Red Nose Knows at the 2015 Cathedral Village Arts Festival. Photo credit: Carey Shaw

The company talks accessibility, inclusive arts, and how you can help.

Listen to Dis Community Arts Organization is making the final preparations for their 3rd annual fundraiser at Copper Kettle. It’s building up to be quite the evening, so we spoke to some members of the organization to learn more.

Traci Foster, artistic director of the organization, calls Listen to Dis “a non-profit organization that enables inclusive arts,” with a mission to “enable artists and community members with varied abilities through inclusive contemporary arts practices.”

In practice, the organization has been active in the performance community on and off the typical stages. In spring 2016, the group performed poetry and theatre as a part of the 25th-anniversary parade at the Cathedral Village Arts Festival, showcasing a work in progress: Neither Heroes Nor Ordinary People. The piece, which included a blend of poetry, theatre, and even dance, originated from a Devising Inclusive Theatre course at the University of Regina, which Foster led with local dance performer Kathryn Ricketts.

Since then, Neither Heroes has gone on to sell out the Shu-Box theatre for a full-week run as part of Globe Theatre’s 2016-17 Shumiatcher Sandbox Series.

Aimee Garchinski, the company’s arts programmer and choreographer, notices “so much misunderstanding about what inclusive theatre is and what is actually necessary to make things inclusive,” going on to explain that “we think we know exactly what inclusivity is, and how to execute an inclusive production, and we are so wrong…There needs to be more conversation around this.” That’s where Garchinski sees Listen to Dis coming in, explaining that conversation “is our main goal…to facilitate that.”

This year’s fundraiser falls on Saturday, Dec. 3, which is no coincidence: the day is sanctioned by the United Nations as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Listen to Dis has a reputed history of holding lively, dynamic, public events, and Foster and Garchinski promise the evening to be no exception.

“People should just expect a fun evening,” Garchinski says, while Foster adds that “the fundraiser will be fun and raise awareness about the talent that lives within this community.”

While Foster teases that “there may even be a few surprize performances by [Listen to Dis] members,” the main entertainment from the evening will come from nationally-renowned singer/songwriter Brandy Moore. Beyond entertainment, Foster adds that guests can expect “door prizes, such as an original encaustic painting by one of Regina’s inclusion focused artists Gerri Ann Siwek, an amazing silent auction with items from local businesses like Seed, Dessart Sweets and Paper Umbrella, and great food,” which will be provided by Copper Kettle, desserts from Koko Patisserie, with gluten-free and vegetarian options available.

Garchinski also wants to make sure people know that “at the end of it all, you know you supported a truly worthwhile cause.”

Foster defines the cause as ensuring the organization “can keep our arts programming going and to raise awareness and funds to do so.”

Listen to Dis has plenty in the works for the future, including a new piece, Sexuality and Circumstance, which Foster hopes to use to “look at relationship and disability,” alongside another piece “using photography and personal essay that looks at the light within each participant and member.”

The organization has big plans to provide new, opportunities to those with varying abilities, and on a grander scale to bring public attention to the lack of wider accessibility for all members of the community. They hope this year’s fundraiser will help them accomplish more of their goal.

Tickets are available for $30, which includes food, entertainment, and a door prize entry. For tickets or more information, contact Listen to Dis at 306-565-0871 or listentodis@sasktel.net.

About Mac Brock