Outsider Artist Advocacy and Self-Employment Goals

By: Karen Colville


My name is Karen and I am an independent self- advocate and visual artist in Vancouver, BC. I live with chronic health challenges that left me as a disabled adult.  My Canadian nature art was selected along with other Canadian Artists living with a disability, for the CASE National Annual Supported Employment Conference June 11th-13th, 2024. Having my art represented with other disabled Artists across Canada is a proud achievement.

The disabled community is always being met with continuous challenges. Disability arts is coming along to increase opportunities with engagement in the arts in programs and arts’ venues. These programs and venues are becoming fully accessible experiences for all audiences.

We, as a disability community, advocate for inclusive policy and practice which provides real access to all aspects of the arts. It also provides opportunities for people with disabilities and for everyone.

Life is a gift. Purchasing items made by disabled people, supports self-employment goals, supported employment and the organizational agencies that support creative independence.

Let’s get real! Costs increase as we continue to thrive in our communities. Independence for access to items created by people with disabilities empowers people through what they make and sell to support themselves financially. It also helps as a confidence building practice. Outsider disability art as a movement is growing more and more. It provides access to opportunities that directly assist with the increases in the cost of living.

Supported employment and having a real work-life balance, having one’s own business, or being in business with family are valuable and realistic options.

Supported employment is important to the disability community. Having mentors and business owners who are willing to work with the disabled person in a fair manner, and being treated as a worker with value is critical.

Having a self-employment mentor is a very important step to building security. Security and accomplishment are crucial to the disabled community and to their families.

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