Last month artistic leaders from across Ontario’s rural communities gathered in the tiny northern town of Cobalt to continue an ongoing conversation about igniting and sustaining performing arts in rural and remote Ontario communities. The bi-annual gathering acts as a platform for both individuals and organizations that are part of the rural performing arts ecology (dance, film/media arts, music, theatre) across the province to connect and build relationships. It adds a dynamic in-person component to the online network building they are doing across the province.
This 3rd symposium was a phenomenal gathering of artistic leaders who shared both the successes and challenges of working in rural and remote contexts in Ontario. As a funder based in Toronto, it was inspiring for me to hear about all the vibrant programming taking place in rural and remote communities and eye-opening to better understand the challenges of working in parts of the province that don’t benefit from a concentration of arts infrastructure and municipal arts funding. There was an abundance of workshops, plenaries and opportunities to get to experience performing arts in Cobalt and the Temiskaming Shores region. I was unable to attend EVERYTHING but here are some highlights from what I did manage to attend:
- Near North Mobile Media Lab shared their highly successful Digital Creator Lab model for engaging young people in Media Arts across 6 Northern communities
- Culture Days, Folk Music Ontario & Community Presenters’ Network explored the ways in which collaboration across networks serves to increase connections, leverage resources and contribute to transformative change
- Aboriginal Curatorial Collective and Debajehmujig Creation Centre led a conversation on the issue of compensation of artists in rural and northern contexts
- Reneltta Arluk, Director of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre, gave a moving keynote exploring her own experience growing up on the Northwest Territories and the ways in which the arts unite and strengthen the voice of rural and remote communities
This barely scratches the surface of the rich content and conversations that took place at the symposium and I would love to hear from others that attended!
What conversations ignited you at the SPARC symposium?
What did you learn?
And if you’re reading this and have never heard of SPARC before, check out their website andblog.Ontario is very lucky to have such an inspired group of folks working to strengthen the networks of artists and arts organizations working in Ontario’s remote and rural communities!