Calgary artists with special needs find a new home after roof collapse
250 artists with developmental disabilities at Indefinite Arts Centre have found a new temporary home after the Fairview Arena’s roof collapsed last month
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After suffering an injury in January, Brittany Osiowy was finally ready to go back to her art studio.
She was working on a cross-stitch pillow for her father in the hopes of having it ready for his birthday on March 5, but her plans changed two weeks ago when the day came for her to return.
On February 20 – just one day before Osiowy was set to resume her work – the roof of Fairview Arena collapsed on the ice at Fairview Women’s Hockey Arena Society. The facility also houses the Indefinite Arts Centre, which provides training and exhibition opportunities for 250 people with developmental disabilities every week.
Osiowy has been attending the studio for the past six years and said she “felt so out of place,” once she heard the news that the arts centre could be closed indefinitely.
“When I first told Brittany, her face just kind of dropped and she said, ‘Wow, what do I do now?’” recalled her mother, Tina Hertz.
But they were back in the swing of things this Wednesday, as Indefinite Arts Centre has found a new temporary home at Shane Homes YMCA.
Jung-Suk Ryu, executive director of Indefinite Arts Centre, said he received 150 offers for help and space after the roof collapsed, but that choosing Calgary’s newest YMCA was a “no brainer.”
“What really makes my skin run with goosebumps is that, for most of our artists, they haven’t experienced a facility this brand new, this world class, with this kind of light,” said Ryu. “That’s something tremendous for them, even if it’s for a short little while.”
The accessible facility has offered the arts society two rooms for their artists until June, when they plan to reassess their placement. Ryu said he hopes to find a permanent home soon, but at the moment he’s just happy to see the artists picking up where they left off and is humbled by the community response.
“As unfortunate as the roof collapse is, this has been a blessing in disguise for us,” said Ryu. “There’s a larger community that understands the work, and the value of the work that we do now, and we could only have made this possible with that kind of response from the community.”
Ken Lima-Coelho, vice president of community engagement at Shane Homes YMCA, was born and raised in Fairview and said he felt personally connected to the roof collapse after he heard the news.
Both he and Ryu know they will face transportation issues with the YMCA being so far in the northwest, but said they know they can make it work.
“This is a great opportunity for our community as well,” said Lima-Coelho. “Sometimes, the population of these artists are hidden – we don’t see their challenges, but we also don’t see the amazing light that they bring. Now we can see it, in art and also in person.”
As Osiowy took up her post again at the YMCA on Wednesday, she continued working on her father’s present: a Calgary Stampeders-themed cross-stitch. She was two days past his birthday, but is undeterred in her art.
“It feels nice being back,” she said. “This is now going to be for Father’s Day.”