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H’art Centre launches fundraiser for Kingston’s newest inclusive arts space

As COVID-19 pandemic restrictions ease, H’art Centre has launched a new fundraising campaign, Mix It Up, with the goal of expanding its space offering a community art hub for artists with disabilities and those facing barriers.

Katherine Porter (left), Executive Director of H’art Centre, giving a tour of the centre’s new space, The MIX, at the launch of the Mix It Up campaign to raise funds for the expanded space and its programming. Photo by Zoha Khalid.

The Mix It Up campaign aims to raise $30,000 by early December 2021, which will allow H’art Centre to open another space right next to the existing Centre at 375 Wellington Street in downtown Kingston. The new space, The MIX, is located at 235 Wellington Street, and is an expansion of 4,000 square foot. When operational, it will include two workshop spaces, retail and office space, and a 50-foot public art gallery. 

At the launch of the Mix It Up campaign on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, the H’art team explained the purpose of the Centre overall and the new space, as well as how significant it is to provide programming for people who already have barriers to access facilities — particularly at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This place will ensure people from all abilities, who wouldn’t normally get an opportunity to perform and share their art, get space that is inclusive and is equipped with accessible features required,” said Katherine Porter, Executive Director of H’art Centre.

Porter expressed that the pandemic led to isolation with people stuck at home, particularly those with additional barriers to accessing community services and activities, such as people with disabilities and other accessibility barriers. H’art Centre introduced virtual programming during the peak of the pandemic using The Box, a space for inclusive studio workshops and performances for groups. However, due to Public Health regulations, the wait times to register, and limited participants in space, many people were unable to participate, leading to further feelings of isolation. With the new space, there will be even more opportunity for participating in H’art’s expanding programming.

Some of H’art’s partners were present at the launch, exhibiting a glimpse of the cross-section of artists and mentors that offer programs at the Centre. David Archibald from Peerless Productions, Hayley Hudson from Deaf Spirit Theatre, Camille Spencer of Adapt N’ Dance, and Karen Dolan from MixAbilities all shared their excitement for The MIX, and expressed the need for the new space.

Porter broke down how the funds raised will be used, explaining the need for $30,000.

“Half of the funds will be used to cover the physical expansion and related expenses, while the remaining half will be utilized to set up pilot-year outreach workshops and theatre residencies,” she said, before offering a tour of the The MIX and explaining the purposes for the spaces within it. 

The large art gallery wall installation will showcase the work of artists with different abilities. At the same time, several other rooms will hold workshops, performances, and other program-related activities. There is also a kitchen and washroom facility within the space, and there will be an accessible entrance for people with wheelchairs and other assistive devices. 

The MIX will be for people with disabilities, people who are D/deaf, MixAbilities-trained artist facilitators, and Kingston’s inclusive arts groups. Together, they’ll be able to learn, develop, rehearse, exhibit, and collaborate. With this new space, H’art Centre will bring inclusive theatre groups together for residencies, and offer on-site outreach workshops and training opportunities. It will be an incubator for new inclusive arts leaders, accelerating positive change in Kingston and beyond, those with H’art and its partners expressed.

People and community organizations can make donations on the H’art Centre website. The H’art team also explained that those who would like to assist in with the expansion project but may not be able to or wish to donate are welcome to volunteer their time and expertise to prepare for events and workshops.

H’art Centre is an award-winning registered not-for-profit, charitable community arts hub that provides artists with disabilities and those facing barriers with opportunities to create, study and produce artworks and collaborate with qualified and trained community artists.

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