Introducing Rabbit Richards, Verses Festival Accessibility Coordinator, with some exciting news!
The co-ordinated team effort to bring together Verses Festival of Words is a loving orchestration of grand proportion. Plans must be assessed months out only to be discarded in moments when it becomes clear they will no longer serve. Aims stated years ago can bear fruit at unexpected times. And the available workforce of a veritable raft of volunteers needs direction to be mobilized in ways that improve the eleven-day experience for all participants, be they guest, attendee, or competitor.
What a pleasure it is to hear the great good news that a new venue has been selected to house the finals night of the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam (CIPS) competition. As we move downtown and away from the Drive for this very special night, I encourage interested parties to consider what this means on several levels. The Annex (823 Seymour) has created a space that is accessible for persons needing mobility devices including a choice of seating AND stage accessibility! They have also partnered with us to provide chairs both with arms and without. The facility offers two restrooms (one with four stalls, one of which is wheelchair-accessible, and one with one wheelchair-accessible stall and two urinals) which will be labeled in ways that do not restrict any gender from their use. We all, as wordsmiths, as artists, and as humans, are in a position to help make this event more accessible by taking into account the needs of those in our friend groups as well as those with whom we are less familiar but who are sharing space with us.
Another very exciting bit of news is the creation of a new role on the planning team. Hi! My name is Rabbit Richards, and I have been hired on as Accessibility Coordinator. I’ve already begun working with the Verses team, looking for ways to make this festival work for all who wish to be involved at whatever level they hope to participate. You can reach me at VersesFestivalAccessibility@gmail.com. I welcome suggestions (and criticisms and expressions of appreciation).
One theme unites these announcements: the concerted work of our directorate to provide a steadily more accessible festival over the course of years. It is clear that both Jillian Christmas, our Artistic Director, and Pamela Bentley, our Managing Director, have made it their goal to create an environment that is welcoming and generous, and these most recent developments owe much to their willingness to expend for the sake of others. I hope you’ll join me in honouring their service by delectating in all of the wonderful programming being offered and by choosing to make accessibility an important aspect of engagement within this festival and on into the rest of our lives.