PrairieView School of Photography (PVSP) Funding

In March 2013, three Deaf photographers identified their need for training. Unfortunately, the PrairieView School of Photography (PVSP) was unable to accommodate these Deaf students. MCSD consultant Heather Bishop got in touch with a teacher from PVSP, hoping to set up a course for Deaf photographers.

The main issue was scheduling the courses. The courses ran in 3 hour blocks, and the Deaf photographers would require ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation.

One requirement of ASL interpretation is that anything over two hours requires two interpreters who switch off every 20 minutes. The interpreters are paid $45.00/hour apiece. As well, one prep hour is required for every three hours of interpretation.

Thus, the 24-hour course requires eight additional prep hours, for a total of 32 hours for each interpreter. 32 hours x $45.00/hour x two interpreters is $2880.00. The total, including GST, is $3024.00. For three individuals applying for assistance, $1008.00 each, plus the course cost: $265.00 plus GST. So each of the Deaf photographers was facing a total cost of $1286.25 to take the course.

MCSD approached the Manitoba Government's self-directed marketAbilities Program, under the Manitoba Family Services and Consumer Affairs' Community Service Delivery Division, Service Delivery Support Branch (located at 119-114 Garry St., Winnipeg, MB), to fund interpreting fees at PVSP for a Deaf photography course as a one-time event. marketAbilities indicated that their program would be a good fit.

Vannie Austria, Michael Austria, and Dana Zimmer applied to them with their business plans and application forms. In October 2013, Michael and Dana attended a review committee to give fabulous presentations of their art form and business plans. While the marketAbilities committee was very impressed and wanted to fund the project, the program only funds unemployed people with disabilities.

In the meantime, another seven Deaf photographers had come forward for a potential total of 10 students.

Heather Bishop approached members of the provincial government to inquire about the policies of the marketAbility program. Specifically, she asked why the program's policies would punish people with enough initiative to get a job to pay their bills while they develop their arts businesses.

MCSD looked elsewhere for funding for ASL interpreters. Red River College (RRC) was considered, but its program-driven model was not a viable option. Alternative RRC evening courses would take two to four months to get an interpreter. Joanna Hawkins, MCSD's Executive Director, approached RRC's Student Aid to see if they would fund interpreters, or if they could provide funding loans that the students would need to pay back.

Heather Bishop found an ally in Employment Manitoba Jobs and the Economy (111 Lombard Ave., Winnipeg). In January 2014, Employment MB made an exception to their normal policy, agreeing to fund the interpreters for a one-time Deaf-only course at PVSP in January 2014.

PVSP felt that the Deaf students could not participate fully in regular classes. Thus, PSVP designed as an eight-week, 24-hour course specifically for Deaf photographers, which ran during May and June 2014. Dan Menheer, an excellent instructor, taught nine Deaf photographers. He was impressed by their enthusiasm!

The Deaf photographers now independently fundraise for interpreting more photography courses, meet for photo shoots, and challenge each other with photo prompts.

It took a year of intensive lobbying to bring it to fruition.