Unboxing Creativity

Get into the Holiday Spirit by Supporting the NaAC  

There’s a warm glow in the studio this holiday season, and it comes from the rosy cheeks of over 300 multidisciplinary artists working inside. They’re winding down for winter break, enjoying time spent together with friends and family, and wrapping up their individual projects, says Dani Spady, Director, Development at the National accessArts Centre (NaAC):

“There’s an intimacy that comes with everybody taking off all their warm jackets and settling in. There are coats piled in places. Steam coming from hot lunches packed in Thermoses. The warmth of the season is very prevalent right now.”

Indeed, this is a special time of year. In this blog post, we take a look back at our accomplishments thanks to the generosity of our supporters, and share the significance of giving during the holiday season. 

A Year of Growth

For the artists and arts administrators at the NaAC, December marks a time to reflect on the previous year’s accomplishments. And there were many. From the world premiere of Seven Miniatures featuring the Rolston String Quartet to the acquisition of Won Lee’s former studio and gallery space on Toronto’s Queen Street West, the NaAC lived into its moniker in more ways than one. It also leaned into its role as the country’s first multidisciplinary disability arts organization by developing new programs in visual arts, performing arts, and music. 

“In the past year, we built on our foundations of multidisciplinary programming to bring these programs to life. Our artists gathered in ensembles based around different kinds of art and created some amazing works that we were able to share with the public in many cases,” says Dani. “This year was just the beginning of really showcasing what our artists can do when given opportunities across artistic disciplines.”  

December is also a time to plan for the exciting year ahead. There is a sense of things coming to an end, as well as a feeling of new beginnings.

“We can’t say exactly what the future holds, because our artists lead their own creations, and it’s our job as an organization to provide the opportunities they want…We know our artists’ visual creations will continue to demonstrate unmatched creativity, but we’re also excited to experience the other kinds of pieces our artists will create as our organization grows,” she says. 

Winter Break

Our artists share what they are looking forward to over the holidays…

Her birthday and spending time with her family and her dogs.

Pat Dixon

I am excited to spend time with family and friends and enjoy some time with my dog.

Andrew Harding

Seeing all the lights gives me ideas and inspiration for my art. And of course, I am going to love spending time with my family.

Cherie Morgan 

Next year I am going to take the Broadway class again and I am excited to learn more dances. One of my biggest goals is making my own animated movies and plays.

Alicia Morrison

I am looking forward to making another doll and excited to spend time with my family.

JorDen Tyson

The More, The Merrier

Since launching the 2021-2026 Strategic Plan, Reset. Refocus. Reimagine., the NaAC has done more to advance training, creation, exhibition, and presentation opportunities for artists living with disabilities than ever before in its history. While the breadth of programming has increased, funding from the Government of Alberta has not. The Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program covers about one of the organization’s operating costs. The rest comes from partners, private donors, and artist patrons. 

“Over the years, we’ve seen a significant shift from a social services organization to an arts superpower,” says Dani. “Because we’ve expanded our programming and reach far beyond that baseline social services mandate, we rely on philanthropy to support our growth.” 

Dani Spady, Director, Development, NaAC

Thankfully, the community has stepped up. “As we’ve embraced this new multidisciplinary mandate, we’ve seen tremendous support from our community. More people have come forward to support us with donations, and we’re grateful for that,” Dani says. “They appreciate not only the incredible work of our artists, but also the need for this kind of programming in Canada.”

Thanks to the generosity of partners, private donors, and artist patrons, the NaAC is able to provide programs with real artistic and creative rigour; workshops, intensives, and studio sessions that meet the needs of artists with differing styles of learning at different stages in their careers. More than that, the NaAC is able to provide industry-standard compensation to artists who want to exhibit and sell their work. 

“You can see how much growth we’ve had as a result of gifts right now, and how deeply those gifts impact our artists,” says Dani, but the real gift is the creativity, inspiration, and joy they give in return. 

“When something is created by one of our artists, it becomes a gift back to all of us who get to share and enjoy it. Over the years, we’ve seen that expand into different disciplines, and we now have musical compositions and dance presentations for audiences far beyond Calgary to experience,” she says. 

‘Tis the Season

The final few months of the year are critical for non-profit and charitable organizations. More than 30% of annual giving happens in December. “It’s a time of year when we’re all investing in the people we love,” says Dani, a time for giving and spreading joy. “This is the season for giving to people you love; for supporting the artists you love.” 

When you support the NaAC, you’re directly impacting individual artists that you care about. Donations not only cover the costs of artistic training, creation, exhibition, and presentation opportunities, but give the NaAC the much-needed capacity to advocate for more inclusive practices—work that can only be done thanks to the generosity of donors. 

“There’s a local pride in Calgary as the city that is leading this movement in our country. Over the past few years, we’ve seen Calgary really claim its place on the artistic stage in Canada, especially in music, and the National accessArts Centre is right there, leading this much-needed conversation about disability arts in Canada, and unabashedly leading it from Calgary,” says Dani. 

“In this warm season, with cold weather, we are truly grateful for the support of our community now and over the entire year,” she says. 

Warm Wishes

Our artists wish you a happy holidays!

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

Colin Ebel

I wish everyone good health and good times with their families and I hope they come back in the new year excited to work on their artwork.

Andrew Harding 

I hope everyone comes back to enjoy the NaAC more! Rae, Wednesday, Carlos and Jarret make it so much fun and I love coming here.

Cherie Morgan 

I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas and a happy new year and that everyone gets more inspired by what you see over the break.

Alicia Morrison

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

JorDen Tyson


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