As we emerge and evolve from the challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic, KWAG is paving the way towards an equitable and inclusive future that supports our community’s well-being. This is a significant and opportune moment to enhance programs and usher in new priorities.
An art museum like ours has an important role to play in recognizing and challenging historic oppression; we believe that our exhibitions, collections, knowledge, and values can serve to address the issues that matter to our communities. The first priority of our new Strategic Plan for the next three years centers on adopting an inclusive, equity-seeking and anti-racist lens in all of our activities to affect transformational change.
The Gallery has taken meaningful, intentional actions to remove barriers to inclusion through accessibility initiatives, tours and hands-on learning opportunities that brighten the lives of the people we serve. As we welcome visitors back into the Gallery physically, we need your help to ensure these programs can continue to grow.
Our plan is to present enhanced programs that will welcome underrepresented communities into KWAG. Why? Art sparks conversations and brings people together to see the world from new perspectives, building bridges of understanding in a way that nothing else can. Every donation you make enables underrepresented voices to be heard and seen, and amplifies stories that brings us all closer together.
Because the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery is not a government or municipally-run art museum, we rely greatly on the generosity of our donors to support our community-based programs and uphold our mission of connecting people and ideas through art.
Your donation will make the following possible:
KWAG’s Youth Council has grown from 15 youth to over 100 participants through partnerships with the KW Multicultural Centre and the “Let’s Talk” group for newcomer youth. Through collaborative projects and mentorships with local arts professionals, we cultivate a future generation of artists while developing creative skills that will benefit youth in any field they choose. For 2022 and beyond, we are expanding our youth programs and entering a partnership with Adventure4Change, an organization that addresses issues related to poverty and inequity for children, youth, and families.
Touch Tours, Descriptive Tours and ASL Tours
In partnership with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Canadian Hearing Society, the Gallery is developing accessible programming for visitors who are blind or have vision loss and visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing. A tactile or multisensory tour and an ASL interpreted tour will be created for each exhibition module, while our interactive screens in the Education Hub will provide digital access to the Permanent Collection and introduce our current exhibitions in multiple languages including ASL. Further interpretation of exhibitions and their artists, including vivid descriptions of specific works of art, will be available on assistive hearing devices.
Since 2016, the Gallery has offered tours in French, Italian, Spanish, Urdu, Polish, Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic as well as English to engage with our region’s growing diversity. Volunteer guides and visitors gave positive feedback about the impact of these experiences for newcomer communities, and demand continues to be strong. To enhance and grow this program KWAG will create digital audio guides in these same languages, allowing visitors to enjoy a tour experience whenever it suits their schedule. We are also partnering with the Waterloo Region District School Board’s International and Indigenous language program to develop tours in Indigenous languages.
Seniors Supporting Seniors
Seniors Supporting Seniors offers workshops and exhibition tours designed by seniors for seniors in partnered organizations throughout the community. Programs offered on-site, off-site and online provide seniors with opportunities to be part of the social fabric of their communities by learning the skills required to lead their own arts-based workshops. The visual arts have long been considered a useful tool in managing or preventing issues such as depression, social isolation, and dementia. This program encourages our growing population of seniors by reinvigorating a sense of purpose and belonging beyond their home environments, inspiring confidence and a stronger sense of identity through the creative process.