#CdnCult Times; Volume 6, Edition 3: REFUGEES

#CdnCult Times; Volume 6, Edition 3: REFUGEES


Nothing is easier than talking to people who are like you, about things you both agree on. Easy peasy. It’s the differences that make things difficult. More difference leads to more difficulty.

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you are like me and work in the arts generally, and maybe the theatre specifically. We probably have different tastes in theatre, enjoy different plays, prefer different formats. But can we agree that art can serve a purpose in the quotidien and is not inherently external to everyday life?

It’s probably the hang-over from 8 years of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government that makes me feel like I have to justify the usefulness of my chosen profession: theatre. Art. It’s definitely that same hang-over that leads me to asses our work on a spectrum of “usefulness” to begin with. Whatever happened to art for art’s sake?

Enter PM Justin Trudeau and his government’s promises to restore funding to the arts, to double the allocation to the Canada Council for the Arts, and to accept 25,000 refugees by December 2015.

Whoa. What?

That’s a lot of people. And chances are, that many people making new homes across the country, and the networks that are being established to support them, mean your and my everyday life could very well mean encountering and engaging with individuals who are refugees or their sponsors.

So what does that mean for us, as artists?

In the June edition of #cdncult, Raoul Baneja proposed that the Toronto theatre community collectively sponsor a refugee family. This kind of banding together is happening in cities across Canada. So in this issue, Baneja proposes a specific way that Canadian artists can welcome and support those refugee who might also be artists.

MT Space Artistic Direct Majdi Bou-Matar takes this challenge a step further. While coordinating and meeting with recent arrivals, Bou-Matar poses the key question many of us are asking: at a time of great need, are the efforts and resources we are pouring into art-making well placed?

Lastly, writer and community organizer mia amir writes about the ethics of working with refugees and their stories. Whose stories are told? What is our responsibility to fact, authenticity and ownership?

Finally, if you find yourself moved to help refugee families settling in Canada, but don’t know how, below are some places to start. This list is by no means exhaustive, so send us any updates and we’ll add them.

If you’re interested in learning more about Canadian immigration policy, check out:

Adrienne Wong & Michael Wheeler
Co-Editors: #CdnCult V6E3



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About the Authors

With firm footing in performing arts practice and community building, I'm curious and passionate about change, systems, and participation. I'm a producer and an artist. I value collaboration, efficiency, and resourcefulness. Currently Artistic Director of Kingston-based SpiderWebShow Performance, which includes co-curating and producing the Festival of Live Digital Art (FOLDA). During eight years as Artistic Producer of Neworld Theatre, I collaborated with colleagues to found PL 1422, a shared rehearsal and administration hub in East Vancouver, as well as shepherding the creation and production of over 80 live events – including a series of 11 "podplays" audio plays before podplays were cool. In 2015, I was the inaugural artist in residence on CBC Radio’s q based on my digital project The Apology Generator. My formal training is in arts creation and producing, and I have practical experience managing production projects, festivals, and special events. I'm functionally bilingual in English and French. I'm a parent, a gardener, a cook and have recently started running.
Michael is Artistic Director of SpiderWebShow, which he co-created with Creative Catalyst Sarah Garton Stanley. He was previously Executive Director and Transformation Designer of Generator, where he led the transition from a fee-for-service model named STAF, to the current capacity-building model it operates on. Since 2003, he has run Toronto-based Praxis Theatre, with which he has directed 14 plays and curated several festivals while writing for and running performance-based websites. He teaches regularly at The National Theatre School and Queen's University, where SpiderWebShow is currently in residence.