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  • Writer's pictureKagan Goh

Geoff McMurchy Artist Development Grant 2020 Recipient Announcement

Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture would like to announce the selection of Vancouver playwright, author, and director, Kagan Goh as the inaugural recipient of the Geoff McMurchy Artist Development Grant. 

Kagan is an artist who presents a clear focus in his artistic vision,” says Sarah Wang, Kickstart’s incoming Artistic Director. “I was drawn to his commitment to collaboration, inclusion, and community advocacy, and the way his works model the guiding principles of Kickstart should be an example for all individuals and institutions supporting accessibility in the arts to follow. We are especially excited to see him further develop Surviving Samsara, a work exemplifying not only Kagan’s potential, but also his impact on our local community as the story is timely, universal, and necessary.”

Upon receiving news of his successful application, Kagan noted, “In developing my theatrical play, Surviving Samsara, I am committed to creating work that both strives for artistic excellence and preserves the grassroots spirit of the Mad Pride community and Disability Movement from which this work originated."

A long-time supporting artist of Kickstart, Kagan’s continued determination highlights his tenacious commitment to artistic excellence and mental health advocacy. When describing the development of his most recent project, Surviving Samara, a theatrical play, Kagan says:

The goal of this project is to raise awareness and educate the public about mental health issues. By bringing the text into the world of theatre, I seek to open up a space for engaging diverse actors and audiences in dialogue around a taboo subject too often shrouded in silence.”

Kagan further emphasizes, “Like many in my community, I believe we need to hear, see, feel, and experience authentic stories told by people with lived experience of mental illness in order to understand the complexity of their experiences, and break the stigma, prejudice, and discrimination against the mentally ill. During these dark, challenging times of the worldwide pandemic, artists more than ever need to shine a beacon of love and hope to the world to guide souls lost in the darkness back to the light. Art connects us through the power of empathy to our common humanity. Ultimately, our shared love for this planet earth will save us.” 

A Note From Kickstart……

This year’s selection process was unique in that it took place before and during the ongoing COVID-19 global health crisis that has severely impacted all industries, with particular consequences for art professionals. Kickstart is proud to continue its tradition of advocating for the disability arts community.

Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture gratefully acknowledges the work and support of its Board and staff, artistic community consultants, and all of the artist applicants in honouring Geoff McMurchy’s legacy.

The Geoff McMurchy Artist Development Grant was established by former Kickstart Artistic Director Yuri Arajs to honour the legacy of Kickstart’s founding Artistic Director, the late Geoff McMurchy, a pioneer in the disability arts community in Canada, who advocated for the equal representation and recognition of artists with disabilities in the broader arts and culture sectors. In this first year, the Grant received an exceptional number of applications from emerging to established artists working in visual, performing, and literary arts. The selection committee highlights this response as a strong indicator of outstanding and trail-blazing work produced by this province’s artists and reinforcing the necessity for continued advocacy of the disability arts community.

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