This weekend Artspace and the Community Foundation for Greater Peterborough will be presenting ‘Make Work: A Symposium On The Economics of Cultural Production In Canada.’
It is a two day event featuring performances, workshops, and panels that aim to bring to awareness the reality of arts and cultural workers in Canada, showcase talent and bring together artists from a range of disciplines, and help bring the local cultural industry into wider regional and national attention.
According to Artspace Director, Jon Lockyer, the project began in early 2014 as a project grant was applied for by Fynn Leitch and Nick Ferrio (art director for the Peterborough Folk Festival).
The idea was to partner the Folk Festival with a senior partner such as Artspace to plan an event that would be cross-disciplinary and benefit the larger Peterborough community.
The project proposal ended up receiving funding support from the The Community Foundation for Greater Peterborough.
What emerged from that process was ‘Make Work,’ a two-day symposium meant to engage critically with what it means to both be artist and cultural worker in Canada and in this day and age.
The Symposium kicks off on Friday November 28 at 8pm at the Gallery In The Attic (140 ½ Hunter St. West) with “Singer/Writer.” It’s a $10/Pay What You Can event that brings together three disparate artists who work in multiple fields: musician Dave Tough, fiction and stage writer/performance artist Kate Story, and Steve Lambke (aka Baby Eagle), critically acclaimed musician and founder of ‘You’ve Changed Records’.
Says Lockyer, “Pairing musicians and artists and writers together who have a diverse practice and are not easily labelled as one kind of artist or another, it isn’t something new, but also not something that typically gets a lot of attention.”
He continues, “we’re just as interested in seeing what comes out of it.”
The Saturday events begin at 10am at Artspace with an “Archiving For Practicing Artists” workshop (free admission) run by Kristie MacDonald, who works for Vtape and is a working artist herself.
The workshop, according to the event page “is intended to provide an introduction to storing and preserving artworks. The session will focus on teaching artists how best to care for their own body of work within home and studio environments. Participants will be introduced to preservation standards, terminology and best practices.”
As Lockyer puts it “its one of the primary challenges for visual artists—storing, preserving and caring for an artists’ body of work once after it’s been shown and if it doesn’t get taken into a collection.”
Artspace will then host a panel starting at 1:30pm with Make Work: The Economics of Cultural Practice.
The panel will consist of three different artists, each slated to make a 20 minute presentation on a specific theme followed by a discussion on the panel.
The topics include:
‘Don’t get C.R.E.A.M.(ed): Strategies of resistance for artist-run centres when cash rules everything around us’, presented by Amber Benson (SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art, editorial committee of .dpi, a feminist journal of digital art and culture, Board of Directors at SKOL),
‘Advocacy, Artist Rights, and the History of CARFAC’, presented by Kristian Clarke (Board for the Canadian Arts Resources Foundation of Ontario [(CARFO) recently rebranded as CANVAS] and Work In Culture),
And finally ‘Doing Things— Making Things Happen— With Nothing’ presented by Clayton Windatt (Director at the White Water gallery in North Bay).
At 5pm at the Art Gallery of Peterborough, the Keynote address will be given by Shary Boyle. The address is entitled ‘Inside, Outside, Upside, Downside’.
Boyle is “a visual and performance artist from Toronto, who has worked and exhibited in Canada and beyond since 1996”.
Among her many credits are the Gershon Iskowitz Prize (2009) and Hnatyshyn Foundation Award (2010), and she is currently showing an installation piece- The Illuminations Project with Emily Vey Duke at the Oakville Galleries, is currently exhibiting two large installations in Shine a Light: The Canadian Biennial at the National Gallery of Canada. Tickets are free but require R.S.V.P.’s as only 100 seats are available (contact [email protected] to reserve space).
Finally, the symposium closes out with a Gala Dinner at 8pm at Two Dishes on Charlotte, with Shary Boyle.
As Lockyer notes, “a nice way to conclude the symposium is as much about sharing a table and getting a great meal as it is getting a chance to unwind after what will busy two days and spend some time with Shary Boyle.”
Tickets are $25, with part of the proceeds raising funds for Artspace.
As for the hopes for this event, Lockyer says “Peterborough has an exceptionally high number of people who rely on Arts and Culture to make a living, but it’s increasingly difficult giving the economic realities and increasing emphasis on austerity. That’s why it’s important that a lot of the focus is on doing a lot with a little, and doing more with less as resources get scarce.”
He adds “it’s a chance to show people the realities of what’s happening in the Arts and Culture sector, not just in Peterborough, but regionally and nationally”.
Finding the means to maintain creative productivity and making a living is a central concern to not just artists, but the small businesses and sectors that are both directly and indirectly positively affected by the presence of the sector.
As Lockyer notes, “Peterborough is doing something really special; a lot of what people are doing here is being done with very little.
But at the highest quality possible, it’s important to ask the question- ‘where’s the breaking point?’ At what point can the quality no longer be maintained with the struggle just to make a living.”