About Latitude Artist Community
Latitude Artist Community serves all people - with an emphasis on those thought by some to have a disability - by creating meaningful, inclusive community interactions which allow participating artists to contribute culturally and politically to the life of their community.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Lexington Herald-Leader, Latitude celebrates 10 years
Bruce Burris and Crystal Bader, co-owners of the artist community geared toward people with disabilities, say it’s a fairly typical morning at Latitude, doing what the project was geared to do.
“For lots of people living with disabilities, they have a pretty low quality of life,” Burris says. “We wanted to give people a means of expression and direction that would raise their quality of life.”
That’s in part what inspired Bader to suggest Latitude as a name for the group when it was founded 10 years ago.
“Crystal said, ‘We should try this ourselves and call it Latitude,’ and I instantly said yes,” Burris says.
Will Fister shows off images he created for a project at Latitude in which he and other artists there made album covers.
The independence allowed them to build the program the way they wanted, although it has never been easy. Neither art nor social services is seen as a lucrative field, and ¬Burris credits his and Bader’s spouses, Robynn Pease and Shaun Webster, respectively, with lots of support.
In the beginning, they were in a space at Mecca Dance Studio that owner Teresa Tomb allowed them to use.
“We literally had no start-up money,” Burris says. “I don’t even think she mentioned rent, but we wanted to pay a portion of what we made. I think or first payment was $22.”
During the past decade, they have been drawn to a stronger advocacy role.
They cite projects including a day when they went to the stoplight at Broadway and New Circle Road, counting the number of cars in 100 light cycles during which people ran red lights (They tallied 107). The point was to document one of the scenarios that makes it difficult for people with disabilities to get around, and to use the skills of Latitude clients to do it.