skip to Main Content
Wordmark reads, artsUNITE / UNITÉ des arts Leadership Masterclass Series, Presented by RBC Emerging Artists

Shay Erlich, seated in their wheelchair, smiles broadly against a white background. Their hands grip their rims like they’re about to wheel backwards.


Shay Erlich (they/them) is a disability justice world builder living in Tkaranto. Their work both creatively and professionally reimagines a disability-centered world where disabled people are empowered to love themselves and live free from stigma, shame, and ableism. Shay holds both a BA and MA in Child and Youth Care from Toronto Metropolitan University, and is an accomplished scholar on disability justice and Child and Youth Care practice.

They are a champion of disability inclusion in the arts and media sector – working with organizations such as the City of Toronto Arts and Culture department, Canada Media Fund, DAWN Canada, the National Arts Centre – National Creation Fund; where Shay is a disability-arts curatorial advisor. Shay hosts trainings and develops professional development programs for arts organizations that facilitate the development of meaningful disability inclusion in the field. This includes leading Designing Accessible Futures, a first of its kind leadership development program for emerging disabled artists which also reported on the barriers emerging disabled artists face. Additionally, Shay has provided accessibility support to a number of arts festivals across Tkaranto including Luminato Festival, the CoMotion Festival, and the Contact Dance International Film Festival. They are also currently involved with a number of projects as a disability dramaturg developing artistic and creative access to live performance. Shay’s writing on the arts can be found in many publications including The Dance Current,, and The Cripsters.

Their body of work also includes a significant dance career. Shay was a co-choreographer and dancer of A Provocation on Wheels I and Safe Words (I didn’t say broccoli) with The Cyborg Circus Project. The film version of A Provocation on Wheels I was part of the festival circuit as a selected short at the Contact Dance International Film Festival, the ReelAbilities Film Festival (Toronto), and the Chinook Festival. Shay’s work with other dance companies includes Heart2Heart by Political Movement, and SPUR of the Moment Shakespheare Collective. Shay has participated in many prestigious residency and artistic development opportunities including The Inkling Incubator (2019), New Blue Kaeja d’Dance Creative Risk Residency (2019) and Dancing Disability Lab (2020). Recently Shay was the inaugural Accessible Futures artist in residence with North York Arts where they choreographed and produced a short dance film Landscapes: Love Letters to Willow which will debut on the festival circuit in later 2023.

You can find out more about Shay’s work through their website or Instagram: @Shay.Erlich.


  1. Shay Erlich: Making a Living in Disability Arts
  2. Worldbuilding
  3. Getting Started: Building a Resume
  4. Networking
  5. Mentorship
  6. Balancing Benefits and Income
  7. Grant Application and Accessibility Support
  8. Learning What You Need
  9. Acts of Love
  10. Why Disability Arts?

Making a Living in Disability Arts Toolkit

Still looking to learn more? Look no further!

All of Shay’s Masterclass teachings can be found in this Digital Learning Toolkit. From defining Disability Arts, to advocating for yourself as someone in the industry, this Toolkit breaks it all down.

Read on to learn more about making a living in Disability Arts from Shay Erlich!

Shay is strapped into their wheelchair. They look to the right. Their right arm is extended in front of them at eye-level. Their left arm is bent, framing their head. Both hands are flexed, palms facing forward as if gently pushing something away.

Back To Top