When Kickstart began in 1998, people thought ‘access’ meant entry to performance venues, not accessible stages for the performers. ‘Disability Art’ conjured painting-by-numbers, not daring explorations in every genre of our personal experiences living with a stunning array of disabilities. Kickstart has smashed stereotypes of disability and challenged artists and audiences with authentic expressions. And we’re still doing it!

— Bonnie Sherr Klein / Kickstart Co-Founder


I am proud to have been a member of Kickstart since (almost but not quite) day one, as an artist, as Board president, as a friend and as a fan. Kickstart has been a pioneer in disability-related arts, offering and supporting the best in many diverse art forms. It is an organization that has changed the lives of many artists for the better. For example, Victoria Maxwell (the BiPolar Princess), James Sanders (founder of Realwheels) and myself all credit Kickstart with significant boosts to our successful careers. And always, always Kickstart has nurtured those who were just finding and developing their creativity. I promise to be supportive to an organization that has such a rich history and bright future.

— David Roche / Artist


I discovered Kickstart in 2001 when I was asked to take part in the first festival. As an artist newly diagnosed with MS, I was thrilled to make art for my new community. At the festival, I met other artists with disabilities, learned things and got hooked on Kickstart!

12 years later, after more festivals, shows, films, and performances, I became the Artistic Director (wow). Diving into the deep end for crazy times — never enough money, short on staff but big on visions. I am no longer the artistic director, but Kickstart continues to push the envelope. Kicking up some art.

— Emma Kivisild / Past Artistic Director


You have established an amazing festival that will reach out to those who dare to dream, where disabilities do not inhibit us from sharing our talents and our stories. What we can learn from each other can only bring us closer and make us stronger – and ensure we will always be heard. This is something to celebrate – congratulations!

— Rita MacNeil / Singer


The festival was a huge success. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was truly inspiring to be surrounded by artists and their work. My hats off to everyone at [Kickstart]. Your efforts had tremendous results. … My most profound experience was meeting other artists. … I felt an overwhelming sense of support from all the artists and I believe everyone left feeling charged and ready to work on new and exciting projects.

— James Sanders / Actor


[Events such as Kickstart are] a wonderful way to celebrate the artistic contributions of people with disabilities and to provide a venue for the public to further appreciate their right to full participation and creative expression. Soon, artists with disabilities’ work will be included in the mainstream and Kickstart is a great vehicle for realizing that outcome.

— Evelyn Glennie / Percussionist