Making art accessible can mean many things: creating works that speak clearly to the viewer, art education, even placement.
But at the Penticton Art Gallery last week, making art accessible was a matter of installing assisted doors and making entry to the building easier for everyone from parents with strollers to those using powered wheelchairs.
It’s a project that has been on curator Paul Crawford’s mind since he came to the PAG. It wasn’t long after he started work, he said, when he encountered a man struggling with the doors. That was Paul Taylor, whose condition restricts him to using a powered chair to get about.
“It would be nice to have a push button, because the doors are heavy and when it’s cold it’s harder,” Taylor said he told the new curator. He also pointed out that as baby boomers age into senior citizens, there will be larger numbers of people finding such things difficult.
“Seeing the struggle he had and realizing myself how heavy those doors were, I vowed right from the get-go that this would be something we would take care of,” said Crawford. Since the gallery is perennially short of funds, it wasn’t until the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan stepped forward with a $5,000 grant earlier this year that they were able to make the important addition to the building.
“We try to invest in things that will have a long-term impact on significant parts of the population. Obviously, the art gallery is pretty important fixture in our community. It just seemed like a gaping hole to not have it accessible,” said Aaron McRann, executive director of the community foundation. “This is something we can look at for years and say this is helping a lot of people.”