Artists Supporting Artists

Kristi Hansen shares her journey as a recipient of the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund

“If you knew her, you’d know,” says Pamela Anthony, sharing her nomination decision for the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund (EATF). “Kristi’s a really remarkable artist.”

Anthony is referring to Kristi Hansen, an Edmonton-based theatre artist whose work includes dramaturgy, direction, stage management, administration and teaching. She is also an advocate for inclusivity within the Edmonton arts community, and the co-founder of the all-female theatre company The Maggie Tree, whose mandate is to support the development and visibility of female-identifying individuals in creative leadership roles.

Established in 1997, the EATF was created by John and Barbara Poole, Edmonton Community Foundation (through a transfer of funds from ECF’s Community Fund) and the Clifford E. Lee Foundation. The fund awards $15,000 to its successful recipients to invest in Edmonton’s creative community.

Hansen is also the former co-Artistic Producer for Azimuth Theatre, where she and a former colleague resigned from their leadership positions to allow for greater diversity and inclusivity at the leadership level.

“My colleague left her position in October and I left mine at the end of January,” says Hansen. “We really felt like, and also the Board of Directors, that we wanted to move forward with young IBPOC folks to take the helm. So [we] have since left the company, and we have an amazing new young leadership team.”

For artists such as Hansen, the fund means more than just an investment in her career. It means an opportunity to further progress the arts community and help shape a better future. Through the funding, Hansen was able to resign from her leadership role without fear of financial hardship.

“As I help along [with] the shifting of leadership, I’m not currently working for Azimuth Theatre but I still want to be available for them for mentorship,” says Hansen. “Being able to carve out that time and having the trust fund available so at least I know I’m paying my rent or whatever, and hav[ing] that availability for them … is great.”

Hansen was born missing her right fibula and with a short right femur, leading to several complex surgeries and the eventual amputation of her right foot when she was 12 years old.  One of her most notable works is her one-woman show, Woody, which compares and contrasts her life as an amputee, juxtaposed with other amputees living in Third World countries and the various real-life elements that come with being an individual living with a disability.

“[Hansen] has this real depth to her approach to how people engage in art, how they serve their community, and who are the artists among us who can look around and generate opportunities for other artists,” says Anthony. “I think we should all aspire to be our best selves and also our best selves in the world. [We should] be more like Kristi.”

Hansen adds that she has always loved Edmonton’s art community and believes awards such as the EATF help keep Edmonton’s talent right here at home.

“I think this award is really instrumental to Edmonton artists who want to stay in Edmonton,” says Hansen. “Knowing that my investment as an artist and a person and a citizen of the Edmonton community has value, [it] makes me want to stay.”

Learn more about the EATF