This has been a challenging time and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on all of us. As most of Ontario is now entering Stage 3 of the Framework for Reopening Our Province, we wanted to thank you for supporting H’art Centre during this time of uncertainty and to let you know everything that we have been doing as an organization to meet this moment. We also wanted to share a few discoveries we made along the way.
After shutting down our physical space in March, we continued to work hard to deliver new virtual inclusive arts programming and to put new tools, procedures, and protocols in place with direction and guidance from Kingston’s Public Health Inspectors and Nurses to prepare for our eventual return to on-site programming. In June, we reached out to our H’art artists and family members to evaluate their interest in returning to on-site programming. Based on this feedback, we finalized our plans and prepared to allow for a VERY LIMITED number of H’art artists to return in a carefully phased-in approach. We began to welcome back a limited number of H’art artists on July 20, 2020 and we have been encouraged by the feedback.
As we build our capacity to safely deliver on-site programming based on government guidance, we will slowly increase the number of H’art Studio artists who can attend at the Centre. We hope to eventually accommodate most H’art artists as restrictions ease in the Fall. We plan to continue to offer virtual programming to ease the transition until at least March 2021. During our phased-in approach, our priority remains the health and safety of our H’art artists, staff, volunteers, and the broader implications that a return to the Centre will have on their lives and their caregivers.
In addition to this update, we also wanted to share some of the exciting discoveries we made during the shutdown, like how we could:
- Offer an online version of our H’art Studio program via Zoom
- Include artists from outside of Kingston in our new virtual programming
- Initiate new research into online inclusive arts programming for artists with developmental disabilities, and
- Begin to train volunteers and community artists online and share best practices about how to deliver inclusive arts virtual programming.
During this time, we learned how much our community cares about us and wants us to continue our vital work. So, on behalf of everyone at H’art Centre, I want to say thank you!
It’s time for us to get excited and explore the new creative opportunities of the Fall Season. We plan to focus on “solo” projects and reintroduce Orff music workshops with professional percussionist Daniel Chalmers and Kathi Toth Switzer, a certified Orff Music Specialist trained by the Royal Conservatory of Music. She is also a professional musician who has performed as a violinist with the Kingston Symphony, Quartessence, and various musical and theatre groups in the Kingston area.
We hope you will follow along as we share more details about the season and any innovative events that may flow from our new reality. We look forward to including you all in the future of H’art Centre.
– Katherine Porter, Executive Director, H’art Centre