A note from the director
The Visual Arts Centre is a bilingual community arts organization which operates a long-standing school, a renowned gallery and ARTreach, a public arts mediation program. Since 1946 the Visual Arts Centre has been a leading voice in arts education in Montreal. Our goal has always been to make the arts accessible and open to everyone. ARTreach is one way that we accomplish this – by bringing art out into communities that might not otherwise come to us and by bringing people to the Centre who might not have otherwise joined. ARTreach is only possible because of the generous support of our donors.
As we continue to build the program we are simultaneously working towards making the Visual Arts Centre universally accessible, with the ultimate goal of adding an elevator to the building. Support us in our mission to make our space more accessible to our students.
Below, you will find a letter from Anna Persichilli, an ARTreach community partner, on how making art accessible to a wide community is beneficial.
Charitable registration no. 106896244RR000
Dear VAC community,
My name is Anna Persichilli and I’m a social integration teacher at the English Montreal School Board. I teach adults who live with disabilities. Our goal in the Social Integration Program (SI) is to integrate our neurodivergent students into the community. My students are artists at heart and have been learning skills that help them feel more included in society.
I am writing today to tell you about the work my students are doing at the Visual Arts Centre and to ask for your support for programs such as ours, which allow all students of all abilities and backgrounds to engage with art at the Visual Arts Centre.
Last year, the Visual Arts Centre agreed to offer accessible art studio space to us. We are extremely grateful for this opportunity and access to this wonderful space. Being in a setting where there is an art gallery and an inclusive community has greatly improved my students’ self-esteem. My students are proud to be part of the art community at the Visual Arts Centre, however, for some students with mobility issues there are still physical barriers.
When I want to go get the milk for my coffee on the 2nd floor, I simply go up the stairs and get it. As I get the milk, I pass through the studio where they create jewelry. I marvel at the way the sun is coming through the large windows. I see Amber and Gabrielle in the hallway and ask how their weekend was, we talk about the latest exhibition and our plans for this academic year. Some of my students with mobility limitations do not have the privilege of moving beyond the ground floor level. Therefore, their social interactions are limited, which means integration is limited. It’s not just a social barrier, Nancy would love to learn jewelery making but is in a wheelchair and cannot come upstairs. Kathy has limited mobility and she would love to learn more about pottery but is uncomfortable going downstairs. In order to join other classes and have authentic opportunities to socialize, my students need access to the upper and lower levels of the building, which is impossible without an elevator. Our quality of life depends on how we interact within our community.
As a teacher for adults with physical and intellectual disabilities I am passionate about addressing this limitation because we want to help our students realize their highest potential and live a rich quality of life. We understand how meaningful this project can be to help students gain autonomy and independence within their own work/school space. I would like to thank you for your consideration and for providing students like ours with opportunities to make a difference in the community.
Social Integration Teacher – Wagar Adult Centre