Saskatoon was host to the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance 2018 Arts Congress this year with artists of every discipline coming together at the University of Saskatchewan’s Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre. The creative minds were joined by advocates, supporters and community leaders, prompting much discussion surrounding social, political and economic climates that directly affect local and national artist communities.
Furthering curiosity around perceptions of this year’s Congress theme, attendees offered their opinions, elaborating what “Making Art in Dangerous Times” means to them.
“I loved the theme of our Congress this year as I believe it reflected the current complexities both artists and arts organizations face. It laid out four categories to address these complexities: Radical Risks, Bold and Belligerent, Slow and Sustainable and Friendly Futures. I believe that we face tensions between ferocious determination and tempered passions when considering our relationships with policy makers and funding agencies. To embark on bold, courageous and transparent conversations is the only way to build these relations and to raise the capital in art making in such dangerous times.” —Dr. Kathryn Ricketts, President of the Arts Alliance
“These are dangerous times because we are on the cusp of great change, and the change is scary. We are at the beginning of a reconciliation process here in Canada, which people fear will mean they lose something.To the South, the population is being torn apart by unpredictable leadership. Identity politics are turning relations against each other. Artists have a role in bringing us together, bringing us into rooms together to hear each other, to share space, to breathe the same air, to try and make sense of it all and maybe find a way to go forward together.” —Yvette Nolan, Playright & Director
“When I first heard the theme ‘Making Art in Dangerous Times,’ I thought, do we live in dangerous times? Statistics may show that the world is a lot safer, but there are many places in the world where the danger is real and consequences of speaking out through art-making is truly a life and death reality. My second thought was: as an indigenous person in the Americas, when has it not been dangerous to make art? It feels like it has taken forever for our art to be accepted into the western cannon and yet we still face systemic racism in all our institutions. The less control we feel we have, the more worried we are likely to be. Which is the truth for many indigenous artists; while this is slowly changing, the reality is, we are not in control of those institutions and therefore are at the mercy of those who are.” —Adrian Stimson, Visual & Media Artist
“Thinking about ‘Making Art in Dangerous Times’… for me art is about listening; it is about working to involve voices, including our own, that may not otherwise be heard. I think the importance of this is heightened in times like the present, when we see how vulnerable people can be when they aren't in positions of power. But I don't think the importance ever goes away. Art creates space for being yourself because it creates space for understanding and acceptance. Especially in times like these, when discrimination is unfortunately so present, we need the opportunities for hearing and sharing that art present.” —Michael Peterson, Director, Void Gallery
For more information, contact artsalliance.sk.ca
By Candace Fox