Geoff McMurchy Artist Development Grant 2020 Recipient Announcement

Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture would like to announce the selection of Vancouver playwright, author, and director, Kagan Goh as the inaugural recipient of the Geoff McMurchy Artist Development Grant. 

Kagan is an artist who presents a clear focus in his artistic vision,” says Kickstart’s Artistic Director. “We were drawn to his commitment to collaboration, inclusion, and community advocacy, and the way his works model the guiding principles of Kickstart should be an example for all individuals and institutions supporting accessibility in the arts to follow.

Surviving Samsara is a multimedia multidisciplinary live theatrical production that incorporates acting, spoken word, music, and audiovisuals. Surviving Samsara recounts the artist Kagan Goh’s struggles with manic depression. This story takes place over two decades as Kagan struggles to survive the highs of mania and lows of depression. As a survivor, Kagan gives us insight into an ‘insider’s’ experience of madness. He exposes the damaging effects of the stigma of mental illness, and explores manic depression not only as a disorder, but as a spiritual emergence—a vehicle for personal growth, healing and transcendence. Kagan’s deeply personal stories illustrate his transformation from victim to survivor to activist. www.survivingsamsara.com

A long-time supporting artist of Kickstart, Kagan’s continued determination highlights his tenacious commitment to artistic excellence and mental health advocacy. When describing the development of his most recent project, Surviving Samara, a theatrical play, Kagan says:

The goal of this project is to raise awareness and educate the public about mental health issues. By bringing the text into the world of theatre, I seek to open up a space for engaging diverse actors and audiences in dialogue around a taboo subject too often shrouded in silence.”

Kagan further emphasizes, “Like many in my community, I believe we need to hear, see, feel, and experience authentic stories told by people with lived experience of mental illness in order to understand the complexity of their experiences, and break the stigma, prejudice, and discrimination against the mentally ill. During these dark, challenging times of the worldwide pandemic, artists more than ever need to shine a beacon of love and hope to the world to guide souls lost in the darkness back to the light. Art connects us through the power of empathy to our common humanity. Ultimately, our shared love for this planet earth will save us.” 

Kagan Goh was born in Singapore in 1969. After years of traveling, he emigrated with his family toCanada in 1986 and now resides in Vancouver. He is a published author, spoken word poet, journalist, playwright, mental health advocate, and activist.

Image Credit: Stephen Gray

To learn more about Kagan Goh and their artistic practice visit:

www.kagangoh.com AND www.survivingsamsara.com

A Note From Kickstart……

This year’s selection process was unique in that it took place before and during the ongoing COVID-19 global health crisis that has severely impacted all industries, with particular consequences for art professionals. Kickstart is proud to continue its tradition of advocating for the disability arts community.

Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture gratefully acknowledges the work and support of its Board and staff, artistic community consultants, and all of the artist applicants in honouring Geoff McMurchy’s legacy.

The Geoff McMurchy Artist Development Grant was established by former Kickstart Artistic Director Yuri Arajs to honour the legacy of Kickstart’s founding Artistic Director, the late Geoff McMurchy, a pioneer in the disability arts community in Canada, who advocated for the equal representation and recognition of artists with disabilities in the broader arts and culture sectors. In this first year, the Grant received an exceptional number of applications from emerging to established artists working in visual, performing, and literary arts. The selection committee highlights this response as a strong indicator of outstanding and trail-blazing work produced by this province’s artists and reinforcing the necessity for continued advocacy of the disability arts community

About Kickstart Disability Arts

Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture is a Vancouver based arts non-profit that supports and promotes artists who identify as living with disabilities.

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