The CCSD’s headquarters, located in the historic Distillery District of Toronto, is the first free standing DEAF CULTURE CENTRE of its kind internationally. It offers an art gallery, a board room with video conference ability and special event facilities, as well as a giftshop featuring Deaf artists’ artwork. Visitors are comprised primarily of Deaf patrons at special events and of hearing Distillery patrons exploring the site and from around the world, both Deaf and hearing. A Social Enterprise partnership with the Palgong Tea Company well known for its milk tea based with rich flavored teas fruit teas, flavored topping foams, smoothies and coffee variations, it is designed to enhance the experience of visitors in a signing environment, it is located in the Historic Distillery District area of Toronto, a revitalized heritage site that is home to a growing number of arts, entertainment and cultural organizations. It is here that visitors/customers can see Deaf culture in action.
The CENTRE provides education and cultural opportunity to both Deaf and hearing communities, and provides many opportunities in which there is Deaf and hearing visitor exchange. Sign Language Institute Canada (SLIC), one of the important branches of CCSD will soon become a reality. SLIC was established in 1981 for sign language instructors to develop the national certification process for Sign Language Instructors/Teachers and to pursue to a higher level.
When CCSD was first founded, Forrest Nickerson, CCSD’s first president, had another dream –to establish a DEAF CULTURE CENTRE. This dream has now become a reality! Under the auspices of CCSD and with unanimous support from the board of directors, Joanne Cripps and Anita Small spearheaded the investigation, feasibility and establishment of the DEAF CULTURE CENTRE. They met with and interviewed museum and gallery directors, curators, strategic planners, architects, designers, multimedia producers, lease agents, educators, government agencies, lawyers, accountants and members of the Deaf community. They conducted a feasibility study and charrette sessions with leaders of the Deaf community, developed site plans with Quadrangle Architects, launched the fundraising campaign with Wayne Hussey Consulting Inc. and worked with Bruce Mau Design Inc. to produce the vision document, identity and design for the centre’s marketing and exhibits. (LINK: Bruce Mau Design Mapping Signs)
The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE pushes Deaf culture forward into the world in a new way where old assumptions are challenged. The CENTRE is receptive and open to all cultures, but its primary function is to enrich and elevate the achievements of the Deaf community for everyone to understand and appreciate.
DEAF comes first because it is our identity. We say “CULTURE” rather than “CULTURAL” because the latter is an adjective, whereas CULTURE represents an active agent at the core of our mission is to celebrate Deaf life using sign language.
CENTRE is what we are – a community of people that projects DEAF CULTURE.
We are an active agent and symbol of the Deaf community, a public forum that celebrates our culture, sign language, and the visual and performing arts. DEAF CULTURE CENTRE is capitalized so it reads and flows as one. The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE is a significant place where ideas begin, where things happen. It is welcoming and unique, from and for the Deaf community and all people.
The DEAF CULTURE CENTRE is a convergence point for Deaf and hearing people to immerse themselves creatively within Deaf culture. The Future: A “Lighthouse” Celebrating Deaf Life! CCSD Past President, Helen Pizzacalla has described the DEAF CULTURE CENTRE as a “lighthouse that will draw people to celebrate Deaf life from around the world”.
This place is about Deaf Culture. What it was, is and will be. It is a culture of creativity and open expression. It is the place to where the Deaf community migrates and from which it emanates. It is in a place like this that culture is made. It is a place where things happen.
This is the only CENTRE of its kind. People from all over the world come to see it. Visitors learn about Deaf leaders and Deaf contributions to society through history, Deaf cultural values cultural sensitivity to behaviours in the community and workplace, importance of communicating in sign language, and the value of the collective and Deaf artworks known as Deaf View Image Art(De’VIA).
The Centre hosts many visitors annually, mentors Deaf / hearing students and interns, promotes youth connectivity and development, and promotes visual and performing artists through professional art exhibitions in its gallery, sign language theatre performances and film productions. DEAF CULTURE CENTRE’s current project is to establish Deaf arts training on a national scale and to increase arts eco-system to support Deaf visual and performing artists and arts professionals.
CCSD relies on donations, earned revenues, sponsorships and grants.