Happy 10th Anniversary AANM!
It has been over 10 years since AANM was founded as The SPARK Initiative in the spring of 2008. During two community gatherings, participants identified the need for an organized alliance of artists with disabilities covering all arts disciplines. The SPARK Initiative grew into the Spark Arts and Disability Network spearheaded by Susan Gibson and co-founder and freelance curator Marie Bouchard. SPARK incorporated as a not-for-profit in May of 2011. In the spring of 2018 Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba gained charity status. Over the 10 years of operating AANM has held two Disability art fairs, two members shows, too many workshops to count and partnered with MAWA, Martha Street Studios, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, the Manitoba Writer’s Guild and collaborated with the Center for Contemporay Canadian Art. Can’t wait to see what the next 10 years bring!
Curator and co-founder Marie Bouchard:
It is my great pleasure to write a few congratulatory words to mark AANM’s 10th anniversary. This amazing organization has met and surpassed all my expectations from when it was first conceived a decade ago over a cup of coffee with Susan Gibson. I met Susan through a mutual friend, Debbie Bean, who was passionate about equality and justice for people with disabilities. Somehow she knew that Susan, an artist and I, an independent art curator, could accomplish much together. Susan’s 2008 performance piece, ‘SPARK,’ emboldened professional artists with disabilities to self-declare and to work with our fledgling organization to turn their challenges and issues into strengths. The art I saw tucked away in home studios in those early years was some of the most exciting work I had seen as an art curator. That remains true to this day and I am proud to have played a small part in bringing disability arts into the mainstream through AANM.
Several people played a key role in helping Susan and I to establish AANM, formerly known as SPARK Arts & Disability Network. Among those were the late great activist and writer Harry Paine, singer and artist Angel Calnek, and artists and chairpersons Daphne Enns and Susan Lamberd. Walking alongside us were The Winnipeg Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, and all the Winnipeg artists who embraced us with warmth, generosity and an unconditional openness to the unique voices of our artists. A heartfelt thank you goes out to all who have been involved in AANM over the years.