Listen to Dis awarded grant for $20K worth of musical equipment

Listen to Dis Community Arts organization was one of 24 non-profits across Canada to receive the grant.

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Traci Foster was “blown away” when she received a call in September informing her that a grant application, filed in the spring, for the 2022 MusiCounts TD Community Music Program had been successful.

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The program will see $320,000 worth of musical instruments, equipment and resources distributed among 24 community non-profit organizations across Canada, including $20,000 worth for Listen to Dis Community Arts Organization in Regina.

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“I was actually visiting my niece, who was expecting her second baby, in Alberta and I got a phone call saying ‘you’ve been successful in this grant,’” recalled Foster, who is the founder and executive artistic director of the organization, during a phone interview Tuesday.

“I was blown away, like legitimately, literally blown away because two things: we were successful in getting the grant, which is a big thing, a big celebration, but also we had thought that the deadline had passed,” she added.

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Foster explained that applicants are only notified if they’re successful in their endeavour. Up until that point, Foster was under the impression the application was unsuccessful and she would try again next year.

The organization hasn’t received the equipment yet, which still has to be purchased, but Foster anticipates everything will be paid for and delivered in about a month.

Foster said the organization was able to choose what they would receive, based on the criteria of the grant. Some of the new equipment will include a piano, keyboards, guitars, bass guitars, electronic drums and a theremin, Foster said.

Members of the organization were elated and excited when they heard the news. When the instruments are actually brought in, Foster anticipates they too will feel the same way she did when the call came in — blown away.

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“We program at The Artesian (a former church converted to a performance venue on 13th Avenue) — and have for years and years — and the piano upstairs was slowly losing its lustre so we chose to get a piano so we could encourage more interest in singing and other things,” Foster said.

“But also to support that community hub that we’ve been a part of for so long in their own efforts to have concerts and programming and stuff for communities in Regina,” Foster added.

Foster said the grant is a community success, not only for people with disabilities in Regina, but just for the wider community in general.

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“The piano will fit very purposefully as an instrument of use for everybody and anybody coming through The Artesian, so that delights us,” Foster said.

Listen to Dis got its non-profit status about eight years ago but some of the programming offered by the organization has been part of Foster’s work since about 2005.

Its aim is to “equip and enable people with disability to develop as creative community members or emerging professional artists,” Foster said.

The organization has created its own theatre productions, put together live music ensembles (which are now working on its first big performance) and advocacy for disability culture through its art and outreach work.

The organization was also nominated for organizational leadership from SK Arts this year, which it won.

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