Conference Video

Keynote Talk: Slouching Towards the Digital

The infrastructural challenges of this current ‘crisis’ have revealed the cracks in the current cultural system, and gives pause to explore both the problems and the potentialities of cultural activity: How can we use this time to ask the right sorts of questions?

This talk will exploring some of Anthony’s work in participatory art practices as well as his current research into rural arts organisations, exploring how the discourse in these domains offer a productive way to think through the current ‘crisis’.
Dr. Anthony Schrag
Dr. Schrag (BFA, MFA, PhD, FHEA) is Senior Lecturer of Arts Management and Cultural Policy. He is also the Programme Leader of the MA Arts Festivals and Cultural Management and Co-programme leader of the MA Applied Arts and Social Practice.

He is a practicing artist and researcher who has worked nationally and internationally, including residencies in Iceland, USA, Canada, Pakistan, Finland, The Netherlands and South Africa, among others. He works in a participatory manner, and central to his practice is a discussion about the place of art in a social context.

Talk Video

Transcript: Day 1 Introduction, Land Acknowledgement, and Keynote Talk

June 25, 2020.

>> MIKITA: Good morning, Canada. Good morning, United States, and good afternoon in Europe. Welcome to our inaugural arts conference Culture's Compass: how the industry keeps beating. My name is Mikita Arlo and I'm going to be your host for today and tomorrow. Before we start, I want to apologize for all our technical problems. Let me know now if everything is fine in the comments. Probably on your right. I also want to say a big, big thanks to our tech team, because you can't imagine how many tech problems we faced just now this morning. So they're doing a great job. Natalka, you're the best.

So yes. I see that everything is fine and we're good to go. I want to thank everyone who is joining us today. We have more than 400 attendees from three continents and over nine countries. That's simply amazing. We have instructors. We have experienced artists. We have fresh, brand-new artists. We have a lot of Humber grads, and that's amazing how many different people come together. We welcome all of you. And also, this means that we are actually coping with everything that's happening here in the world now.

So to speak more about the conference, I want to invite the director of the Centre of Creative Business Innovation and Humber Galleries, Jennifer Gordon.

>> JENNIFER: Thank you, Makita.

I'm hearing a bit of feedback. I'm going to try without the headphones. One sec, folks. How's that? All right. So onwards. There we go. So yes, thank you, Mikita.

Good morning and welcome to our inaugural Culture's Compass virtual conference. Yeah, the feedback is -- hmm. So let's start again. We are thrilled to be welcoming almost 400 people from all over the world. My name is Jennifer Gordon. And Culture's Compass is brought to you by Humber Centre of Creative Business Innovation. Sorry if there's a lag here. I'm hearing multiples of myself. So yeah.

The conference is brought to you by the CCBI, and our wonderful partners at Work In Culture and it was organized by an outstanding team of Humber students, all of whom are ready to get to know you. I'm sure many of you are wondering what the CCBI is. Humber Centre of Creative Business Innovation is a hub for problem finders, solution builders, and innovation creators. We explore questions through multidisciplinary collaboration. We match people and their deep expertise with our wide array of resources to help leverage change and boost organizations through uncertain times. And yes, that means all of you and for all of our cultural communities. So bring us your problems. I'm guessing we all have more than a few right now. Let's find solutions and build better systems together.

The concept for Culture's Compass grew out of the impacts of COVID-19, which has shone a spotlight on the gaps and in some cases, the chasms that existed pre-COVID. Despite the many ongoing discipline-specific conversations, it seemed there was an opportunity to digitally, figuratively, and perhaps even literally bring the cultural sector together across disciplines. So where was that conversation happening and could we create a space for that?

Employment or lack thereof is an additional problem. Our recent grads were facing challenges finding work placements. Here was the perfect opportunity to feed two birds with one stone, to employ students to create and produce a conference that brings the sector together. For those industry professionals in our audience, you know how difficult it is to organize an event like this. Not only did these students rise to the challenge, they accomplished it in six short weeks. Impressively, this was also their first experience working remotely as well as their first time round as live, remote event organizers. So cheer them on and keep an eye on this group of emerging arts professionals and future leaders. So, everyone, here we are. Let's talk about culture and how we can use this opportunity for a new path forward. One that is universally accessible, inclusive, and equitable. Decolonialized, antioppressive, antiracist and innovative.

Let's use this space for safe conversations about what digital can and can't do, about who we are, and how we are going to get to new ground. If culture is made up of our actions and how we interact, let's ensure that the compass points true and points toward what expands the human spirit. We know we can't get to all of the solutions today or tomorrow, but our hope here is that we see patterns and share best practices, and together, find inspiration and a renewed sense of family and community. So if you find this experience valuable, we'd love to keep the momentum going by hosting future Culture's Compass gatherings. We have designed this space to be participatory, with the hope we gather all of our contributions into a report to be reported to government and academia and all those who make up the fabric of our cultural from the performing artists to the cultural centres. How often should we meet? What can we solve together?

On a side note, some of you will appreciate this : we're so diverse, all of us here in this conference and this space is apparently so revolutionary that Instagram has blocked our promotions of it. This is silent clapping in case anyone is unfamiliar. So thank you all for joining us and participating in the new culture, one that apparently Mark Zuckerberg doesn't want you to see.

I'll now pass the floor to Regina Hartwick, Humber's acting associate dean of Indigenous education and engagement to give our land acknowledgement. Regina, over to you.

>> REGINA : I just want to check to make sure my screen is being shared.

I think it is. I can see it. OK.

So what I guess first I want to do is, I want to talk about what it is that I'm actually doing. So it's customary to begin events by honouring that thing that connects us all and that's land.

What we're going to talk about today is Indigenous histories in this place. We're going to talk about those traditional territories, and I'm going to do it in a very personal way, because I think we always bring ourselves to everything that we do, and so I'm going to start by introducing myself in my traditional language. And so I'm going to -- kwey kwey is the way we say hello in Algonquin language. And so I might also say sago which is within [not audible] language and hello within the English language.

After that, I want to use my traditional language and put those words up and out there introducing myself. So I'll begin by saying anine, kwey kwey [ Speaking in a language other than English ]

So at the beginning, I said I could have added my Anishnabe name. It has a significance for me. I come from the big river, that really special place for my people. I'm Algonquin and Anishnabe woman. That's the quay part there and the Ottawa river valley. I'm a member of the Martin clan. I'm also related to the turtle clan on my mom's side. So what this tells you a little bit about me is first of all I'm a visitor within a territory that is the treaty and traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the credit.

This is also a territory that's been homeland to Anishnabe and wyandotte peoples for many generations. And so at the heart of it, understanding that I'm a visitor within this place, what does that mean? What are my responsibilities as a visitor within somebody else's territory? And so based on my upbringing, based on my understandings, I think about myself as sitting within the seven of seven -- within the middle of seven generations. So this is a way of thinking about how we situate ourselves within history, and so there's this idea that, you know, these generations before me are really shaping the way I see the world, the way I engage the world. So this picture right up here on the top that's a little me with my grandfather. And you know, my grandfather, he died when I was a bit younger, but his stories, his experiences, they’re still a huge part of who I am. I would have to say my mother, so that's the picture right under it, so my grandparent and my parents.

>> MIKITA : Regina, I'm sorry, your screen isn't sharing properly right now if you don't mind heading back in to make sure you're sharing that properly.

>> REGINA : Thank you. Hold on. Does it show now?

>> MIKITA : Yes. Perfect. Thank you.

>> REGINA : OK. Yeah, you need to see the pictures to know what I'm talking about.

>> MIKITA : Sorry. If you exit full screen, we should be able to see it in your PowerPoint if that's OK.

>> REGINA : OK. So what you see here at the top there, that's my grandfather. As I said, his experiences, his knowledges, those have been passed down to me through him but also through my mother who is right below here. And so really, I've learned a lot from them. And those knowledges and those teachings and those things that have been passed down through them to me to my ancestors are knowledge and experiences that I carry. We have this understanding that also, you know, our memories are experiences that come to us also through the blood so those experiences of those ancestors, they're my experiences as well.

So I understand that the past is something that is a huge part of who I am. And it's a huge part of how I connect to my family and my clan. It's a huge part about how I connect to my community as well as my nation.

And so at the centre of that is always land. Land is something -- and I think all of us are that listening to this right now, we can think about those places that have been special to us, and understand how they can be such a big part of everybody's lives. And so as Anishnabe quay, I carry those. As it's been written into every fibre of my being as an Indigenous woman, so too has strength and courage.

They shape how I approach the world. At the same time, everything I do, what I'm doing right now is actively shaping the experiences of my descendents. So what you see right here in this picture right here -- this is my daughter Jada and this is also my daughter Jada. This is my daughter when she was 8 or 9, and at the time, we were fighting against uranium exploration in our traditional territories. It's a special moment for her. She got up and spoke about how important her territory was to her. There was no fear there. What you see is my mom sitting there holding her hand leading her through this.

So I've put those people in her life that are shaping her. And you know, and I'm an incredible role model for her. I recognize that I have that responsibility, and so you know, she's a grown woman now. She's almost 21, and she's also a big part of who I am. And so I recognize that I have that responsibility to her.

I have that responsibility to all the other children and youth and people within my community. I have responsibilities to the students I work with. I have responsibilities to the staff, and I have, you know, responsibilities to the communities that I'm a part of. Hopefully sometime down the road, not any time right now, like there may be grandchildren. And then, you know, future descendents. And so I recognize that everything I'm doing for better or worse, so the good and the bad, everything I do, it is leading to, leaving something for those generations to follow. Everything I do has an impact.

Because of that understanding and that knowledge that I --

like I'm not something existing outside of everything else. I'm interconnected. I think about these things every day. When I'm thinking about land acknowledgements and connecting to land. So how do I know about -- how much do I know about the history and presence of Indigenous peoples in the places I work, learn, and call home. If I don't enough, it's my responsibility to learn more.

What I will tell you is I've learned a lot, and I still don't know enough. So that's a continual process throughout your entire life. Then, you know, what relationships do I maintain with Indigenous peoples within this territory? What relationships do I maintain with the territories themselves? If I feel like those relationships are not enough, if I feel like I need to work on those relationships, even just maintaining those relationships, that's work that I do every day.

And I really love that work. I also think about, you know, how much would I like to know what and relationships do I want to have, and then what can I do right now that will help me realise this vision? I want to have these relationships and this knowledge. It's not enough to just want it. You have to act on it. Acting is a really important part of land acknowledgement. Sometime we'll get up and say this script and talk but how this is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the credit and I'll talk about that, but I'm not acting on that.

A lot of what I do in my job in term of being acting associate dean, I'm learning and growing and creating change, and so I'm acting on the knowledge that I've been given. And then like how do I support others in their own learning journey? Because I've been taught once I've given knowledge, I have a responsibility to return that and to give that back to others and, you know, to pass that forward. So that's a lot about what I want to do, and so I wanted to -- before I even get into the fact of the land acknowledgement itself is understanding that part of that acknowledgement of land is recognizing that you always bring yourself to the process.

When you're connecting with land, there's that inherent person that you are that is the centre of how you will connect with land. And so within this territory, the one thing that has been hugely influential for me is learning about the dish with one spoon wampum agreement that existed between hoeden Shoeny and Anishnabe people.

The Toronto region was a shared territory and still is a shared territory. What I recognize first and foremost, this is the treaty lands and traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the credit and in this region, this is a shared space, and it's always been a shared space between Anishnabe, honish any and wyandotte people. Now it's a vital source of connection for all people, for all of us who live, learn, and work here.

At the heart of that is understanding. The land could be this territory but the land can also be the entire earth. So if you think about this, the land provides everything. So inside that dish are all the plants, animals, birds, bushes and trees, really everything you need to be well. And so reciprocally, because the land is giving us what we need, we have the responsibility to take only what we need and behave responsibly and make sure we're not taking too much and really to give back to the land, to make sure we're taking care of the land, and to ensure that abundance and viability that's within the land continues on into the future, because I think of myself as existing within those seven generations. So I need to leave something for them. I need to leave not only for the three generations that are like coming after me but seven generations into the future. So that's what I've been taught to think about.

And so when you think about the fact that your -- the footsteps that you're walk every day are shaping the generations to come, this quote here, it really resonates. So this idea that we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children. When you're borrowing something, you take care of that. So recognizing that, you know, we have a legacy that we're leaving every day.

I want to leave you with these questions. I want you to think about this a little bit, because it's something that shapes my thinking when I think about connecting with land and also the way I live, and I think it's really good questions for everybody to think about. And so you know, the first question that is within my mind all the time is, you know, what will the next generation inherit?

So we're dealing with environmental degradation today. We're dealing with environmental crisis. We're dealing with social issues connected to race and class, and you know, like so what is the legacy that we are hoping to leave? How are we creating the change that we want to see in the world? And so those are questions that I'm hoping that you will think about as you engage with this conference and even in your life and thinking about, what are those steps you're taking to create a better generation, I mean a better life for the future generations and to make sure there is a healthy environment for them to actually inherit going forward into the future. And so those are the thoughts that I wanted to kind of leave with you, and so I just want to say Meegwetch, that means thank you for listening.

>> MIKITA : Thank you, Regina. It was very nice of you. We really do appreciate what you have done. So thank you. That was Regina Hartwick, associate dean. Now we are almost ready to go. We're all dying to start. Just a couple of last thoughts before we start. First of all, please feel free to comment in the chat on the right side. I say you're doing it well. That's fine.

Please keep your comments appropriate and on topic, because our chat minders will be keeping an eye on it. Put any questions you have for the panelists in the ask a question section, and you also have an opportunity to upvote some other questions that you like and that you want to be answered. Next thing is you are more than welcome to participate in any polls that come up below. And the final thing. I want to thank Jackie Comrie for providing some amazing artwork that you'll see before the start of each session and you'll see it now. And I also encourage you to check out her other works on her website which is posted in the comments, will be in a moment and on our website. So now, we are finally ready to go, and our first keynote talk is called slouching towards the digital or my mother doesn't know how to use the internet.

By Anthony Schrag. He's senior lecturer and the program leader of the master of arts felt Vals and Coe program leader of the live arts and social. He's an artist and researcher who has worked nationally and internationally including residences in Iceland, the U.S.A., Canada, Pakistan, Finland, Netherlands and south Africa. We can go on for it for a long time. He works in the centre and is a discussion about the art in the social context.

Dr. Schrag, the stage is yours.

Take it away.

>> ANTHONY: Thank you very much.

It's lovely to see you all. Can you hear me all OK? I'm hoping that's thumbs up sort of ideas.

Welcome from a very for once sunny Edinburgh and I'm happy and glad to be part of this.

I'll dive right in and start off with my presentation. Hopefully I'll put it full screen. But I may not be able to hear you. If any of the chat moderators feedback a question if you have it. I'll go to that and allow -- hopefully you are now seeing that. I'm going to go full screen. So my discussion or presentation responding to questions and presentation, both the previous speaker said something that I thought was quite interesting, namely Jennifer said something about having safe conversations. I'm hoping what I'm going to promote is some form of dangerous conversation. I'm more interested in the dangerous than the safe certainly and gina's comment about what it means to be a visitor in someone else's territory. That's quite pertinent to a lot of my work and I'm definitely interested in finding out what that means.

>> Anthony, so quickly, you've got to share your whole window, not the application, I think.

>> I believe I had done that.

But possibly I hadn't. So I'll try that again. Does that work for you? How is that?

>> Perfect. Thank you.

>> Great. OK. So I will start, I suppose, by then kind of reflecting on and thinking aboutabout, I suppose, some of the questions that we're talking about which is really about participation. I started think about the title and I thought slouching towards the digital made sense to me, because of the W.B. Yeats home that was from a hundred years ago and ended it with [not audible] and I was thinking about COVID-19 as being one of these things that is a rough beast that is coming towards us. And we're not too sure what it means and does, but it also gives us an opportunity to reflect possibly on what it's actually going to do as we go forward. I also kind of referred it toa my mother doesn't use the internet. I would like to introduce my mother. She's not very good at the internet thing. I wanted to really reflect on what it means to be operating in the digital when not everyone can. So what I'm going to try to do is talk about the history and engagement of participatory arts and my relationship with it and think through this participatory arts context and some ideas such as the rural as as lens to consider isolation and infrastructure.

My work starts.

I always show this work when I'm giving a talk. That's mostly because I think it says something about my practice, and it was very long ago I made it.

I usually refer to it, because I think it does an interesting thing and illustrates when there was a huge shift in my practice.

You can see this is me and I'm upside down and gravity and pulling all the blood to my head. I'm hooking the top of my foot to the underneath of the stairs so it looks like I'm walking up the stairs but I'm actually hanging upside down.

I'm the nosaying I can hang from my toes but I can but I showed it for this clip. As it was my practice run and as I was practising to make sure I didn't fall and smash my head open, because I forgot to lock the doors, the lady came down the stairs.

In the process of coming down the stairs, I went that's far more interesting and far more an exciting piece of work. So I got really interested in the idea that participation and making art with people as a way to think through how other people can affect your practice.

And so that's kind of what hopefully I'm going to be talking through. I did train as a photographer at Emily Carr in photographer. I kept leaping out of the screen and printing things blurrily. I remember having a conversation with Liz Magor who was my professor in 2002 and I was talking about my struggle with this production of objects. It didn't have to be an object. It could be something else. I went out into the world and started challenging. These sculpture objects and challenge health and safety regulations. Then I was sort of thinking about, that wasn't successful because it didn't do anything. I wanted the artwork to live so I started making these other artworks that would set on fire or destroy themselves or explode and also challenging the health and safety regulations. I suppose what I then started realising is what I was interested in was the experience of bodies in space.

And so how could I kind of challenge the perceptual habits of body in space. I started off climbing on things and going around the world and doing silly things like this which is a performance in China with some lovely confused Chinese ladies and in Glasgow and elsewhere and this man who was in Denmark who was confused because he wasn't even looking at what I was doing. It's not his art that hangs on walls. It's him. It embodied this physicality that's been central to my work. How does this embodied physicality translate in a time of COVID-19 when you can't have that embodied physicality with other people? There's a series of polls that pop up. I'm not sure if this will work. They're there for you guys to see as you go on. They're in the top right-hand corner. But there's a question of how I'm doing this. And I'd be interested to hear when you think is happening. I can tell you it's not turned on itself side that I'm actually doing this. But hilariously, as I was performing this work, the person who was coming to get me down forgot, and I was trapped up on this wall for a good couple of hours which is fun to do. Anyway, and a lot of the works that I had been working on, what I was trying to do was take that embodied physicality and refer it back to other people. It was no longer my physicality. So this is a series of works where I made where the gallery becomes this aggressive site and tries to put the experience of the body back in other people as opposed to me. So it was the walls would literally start to attack people. And sometime that worked and sometimes that didn't work and ethically, probably quite difficult to think about. But you know, kind of concept I was reaching towards which was trying to get other people's physicality was becoming to be very prevalent to me. What I started to realise was how could I try and start to engage other people in thinking through some of the ideas? So I would start to make signs like this which is a seven and a half metre long sign and strap it to the back of my body and go walking downtown in Glasgow, of course knocking people down and getting trapped between sign posts. A piece of advice. If you happen to put a seven and a half metre sign to your back and go for a walk on a Saturdayanch in Glasgow and so men come and spin you around, there's very little you can do about it. You have to go with it. What I was realising was the sign itself was not the artwork.

The sign itself was an excuse for those interpersonal relational activities. And so the object was not the art. The aesthetic lied within the engagement and quality of engagement. I realised from that, I could start to explore a lot of ideas. What I'm going to talk about is a series of artworks that I did that started to unpick some of the issues I was interested in participation and how to maybe take those forward and hopefully that they'll start to kind of link into some of these bigger ideas I'm going to talk about in regards to this bigger context.

In 2011 I was commissioned to make an artwork that explored the notion of father hood in a small I have where a the loever men worked away from home.

There were very few men in the village. I started doing this by asking families if I could recreate family photographs with me as the dad. And that was just a way to recreate conversations about what did we mean by father hood? What did that mean to be a dad? And so there were a series of conversations. Other projects like rent a dad that was an ad in the paper that said you could rent me as a day to be a dad, whatever you thought a dad could be. For example a lady said can you come and teach my son how to ride a bike. I'm a single mum.

I didn't know how to do that.

There was a conversation going that's a conversation about fatherhood and what it means. I grew a boy for 16-year-old boys to teach them how to shave because their dad wasn't around to do that. Or brewing beer with the dads that as a way to talk about fatherhood and what does it mean to be a father and how could we challenge those ideas and it ended with a father's day activity to culminated in a tug of war between all the dads in the village and everyone else. It was hopefully trying to unpick these difficult and complicated notions of fatherhood and what it meant to be a father in a productive way. Another project that -- so in some ways I was quite happy with that methodology. I could go to a place and apply physical methodologies and together we could unpick ideas. When the ideas start to become more complicated. This was a project in 2009 when I was invited to develop a work relating to sectarianism which is the issues in Glasgow which were divided upon religious grounds, the Catholic and protestant and the idea of the commission is I would go to three areas of Glasgow and make artwork with these young people about sectarianism and their artworks would go back to the gallery of modern art and be displayed and somehow their lives would be better, because that's how artwork works. The problem with that is that it's very difficult to figure out how that's actually going to change anything. For me, I all think about it when I think of this kid who has just come up on the picture and his dad who is on the very left of the screen who had been in a fight and there's blood on the golf club. What I did is I returned back to the commission, the gallery of modern art and I'd like to have a meeting with you about this.

I threw them into the back of a van and kidnapped them and drove them to Torre glen and I I want to have the meeting in the site you think will effect. What do you think this project will do that will effect change? Not everyone was happy with that process. That kicked off in me a long period of research. How do organizations cite themselves as equal participants in projects? How do organizations feel they need to change as well? How do organizations understand they're an equal partner in a series and they don't sort of overlay projects to other people and sort of expect them to do it? Because kicked off with me a methodology I got are what the are benefits of being an asshole. If you look at the definition, it's someone who is contempable.

It's being disciplineful to a court of law. How can these be used to question power could?

Rather than being something focused out to communities, could you return participation backwards and put it back on organizations? My whole Ph.D.

research was very much about that relationship. It was examining the relationship between an organization, sometimes referred to as an authority, the artists that do those work, and the social and projects who receive those projects and what was the role of conflict within there, embedded power dynamics in that work. Dia I did a diagram that I still don't understand. If you do understand it, let me know because it would be helpful in my research. I worked with this definition thattan Anne Marie Copstake said. Who do you work with? She said I work with people who are not myself.

It kicked off a notion that I was interested in who were not me. Everyone I engaged in had different ideas and not me.

There's this concept of participation that's often presented as a new idea in cultural work. It's not new.

Yes, we can go back to the 60s.

We can go back much further than this. This piece from 1553 contains at the bottom this little graphic that if you kind of look at it from a different angle, it's a skull. It's a work that he was putting into theart work about the different perspectives. He was recognizing that artists had a position to see things from different angles. He was recognizing perspective. What that brings up to me is that does art always try to educate and bring together and do all these things? Can participation try to unravel the world? Are we not able to use participation to explore the darkness within us? Might that be UKT PR --

productive? Should art always try to fix things and find solutions sore it can complicate the world and that can be productive? When we think about participation and participatory practices, it's important. I refer back to Raymond Williams who was talking about the question that culture is ordinary and the amassed activity of everything we do and there's an ontological flaw in inviting people to participate in culture because we're already participating in culture. The problem is there can't be a single organization or newing that curates culture because it's not a fixed or permanent or controllable f we speak about frameworks to do certain types of culture, for example cultural policy, at best they're doomed to fail and you are at worst they're intentional social engineering. Certainly in the U.K., that's a big push towards reflecting how participation strategies are being to issues such as exclusion and the DCMS, the department of culture, media and sport really kind of came back to this idea that our functional role that it could do something. They came up with policy statements such as culture can play a key role in the part of a wider economic drawing power or culture can enable you and make a real difference. None of them are analysed and assessed and they're problematic when you unpick them. I think about Billy Elliot. It's one of my favourite films. If you think about the film and the play, and unpick when it was written and where it comes from, it was written at the height of these exclusion policy in the U.K. and the narrative that Billy Elliot says is that Indigenous to the U.K. cultures, such as those that valued boxing, mining, darts, drinking, pub, pub culture, were dead and dying cultures, and they're not to be trusted and actually the only thing to save these places was high art, ballet. Everyone moved to London. The narrative of that story reveals that actually there's a right way to do culture and participation art was being -- participatory arts with inclusion were being framed towards being instrumentalized and being put towards a specific use. And I'm going to go through some of the criticisms of a lot of these works in a bit. I hope this doesn't get too dry. I'll only spend a little bit of time but I think it's really important. What the participation policies were being suggested that they were being positioned to replace vital services that should have been provided by governments.

For example, artists working in a form of social engineering --

sorry, social work but much less paid and less resources. No sense of participation could be used as a tool to dismantle the welfare state. There was a report in 2014 that said people who engaged in the arts, they had a perceived benefit equalling the receiving of a thousand pounds wage increase per year. You could argue that people on welfare, if they not to see a few theatre shows for year, ieengaged in culture they should have a thousand pounds deducted from their wages.

Perhaps one of the most important things to reflect on, if you are participate in the wrong way, the fact that participation is in fact a very exclusionary process. How many participation projects are aimed at white middle class wage-earning men? Very few.

Most are aimed towards poor people, unwell people, people who on the edges, people in prisons being people who are not participating in the culture in the right sort of way. So if we think about participation in that way, it actually highlights who is excluded from those processes. If that's the case, our artists involved in replicating a lot of those strategies?

Also suggests participation is a concept suggests equal exchange.

Most of the time, they're the dominant partner. One of the examples is the south London gallery in London got excited about doing an engagement process with the housing estate behind them. When they were going to do that, though, they realised that the housing estate, people had to walk around a huge block to get to the front entrance of the gallery. They took their first chunk of money from the government that was about participation and just knocked their back wall down. They kind of realised they had to change before they could do any changes. Any engagements.

That's a way to think about how do organizations think of themselves as an equal opportunity? And last thing, besides thinking of the cultural participation, it assumes there are people not already participating in their culture.

Culture is ordinary.

Stevenson's work talks about a cultural nonparticipant and imply there's a right way and wrong way to engage in culture.

I suppose some of the questions that are most problematic and I'll get to these in just a second, it assumes the public is a homogenous group and even in a small community ever 160 people, 200 people, even a thousand people that they'll all agree on something. And actually, we can do a public where someone gets along and this is blatantly false. Public spaces are always plural and not smooth. A democratic society is one it in which relationships of conflict are sustained.

They're not erased.

That's important to think about it. What we need to be doing is think being how do we ensure that conflict is happening. Not that we don't act. Conflict and division and instability don't ruin the democratic public sphere. They are conditions of its existence. Participatory artwork should not try to fix or ameliorate those problems.

Those that do gloss over the problems. Maybe we should try to talk about revealing and explore the conflicts, not fix them. We don't have the abilities and resources to fix a lot of these problems.

We have the ability to reveal them. Actually, we need to be working together to fix them with other sources.

I'm going to show you a brief little work that reveals that.

It was an artwork where the Dennison art gallery wanted us to make artworks about an area in Glasgow that had a serious violence problem. I would expect to do an artwork that spoke about this in some way, maybe addressed it. I thought people had a lot more important times to do that.

Could I use my strategy as an artist and just come at it with a different angle. Rather than fixing the violence, could I increase it. It was an excuse for small Glasgowian children to hit me with sticks. The work was to reflect on how could we actually think about highlighting this work as a way to talk about things but not fixing it? There's no way this in half an hour I could do that.

You'll you notice I'm not wearing a helmet. That was fun especially with small Glasgowian children with sticks. Watch this guy's third shot. He's going for the balloon. He goes one, two, go for the -- but he doesn't which is good. The social in our culture which is really about social engagement and participation highlighted those questions of art trying to do good and I'll talk about the doing good in a second.

Certainly, there's been recent shifts in the U.K. about how we really do that. Yes, this might be getting boring. I'm almost through and almost back to the arts stuff. It will be fine.

In Scotland, there's something called a cultural strategy that will be addressing some of the issues. They're trying to think about how art exists horizontally through all departments of the government.

Art in history, art in education and art in governance than a strategy apart from everything else. I think that's going the in the right direct. In England there's another thing happening which is slightly problematic.

They have an approach called creative people and place award this they're suggesting and I'll read here, [ Reading the slide ]

Rather than recognizing that London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh, these urban sites receive all the money, could they put a the lot of money back into these rural sites? And the problem is the way this is talked about is these are referred to as cold spots of culture.

There's a subtext within that somehow these places don't already have culture or really what is known as the right kind of culture. They're trying to readdress that. In readdressing that, they're assuming there's the wrong kind ever culture happening there anyway. My problem with this is not necessarily about that culture, although it is. It's an absence about a certain kind of infrastructural flaw not cultural flaw. There's not an infrastructure to support the work that's already there, not the artwork.

In Scotland, I'm going through through some research that talks about this infrastructural flaw with the rural art network.

Scotland has quite a remote and rue side, trying to develop the relationships between a variety of different places in Scotland because of their rurality and remoteness, find it difficult to engage with each other and to share knowledge. So this is really about developing their participatory infrastructure rather than what they're providing. This network we're developing kind of hopefully does that. As an example, time span museum and gallery. I'm not going to link to the map because it would take me out of the screen and I'm worried I'll lose something.

It's very far north of Scotland.

It's a museum and gallery with a variety of socioeconomic conditions. In the summer months it's the largest employer in the village and the closest city is Inverness. It takes me in about eight and a half hours to reach it. It's very haraway.

When we have this rural art network, we got all these people together to talk about their issues and infrastructural flaws. What they managed to say -- this was before COVID-19.

They felt disconnected from the main rural cultural activities that were going on. They felt isolated from their community of practice, ie, other artists.

They felt it was difficult to constantly work online and to maintain relationships without the practice around them. Those five statements does, that sound familiar to everyone? We're all facing it in COVID-19.

We find it difficult to work online and find it difficult without a community and practice around us and to maintain productivity without community.

There are opportunities to think about rural organizations as people who have already addressed this, as people who have already thought about these issues. Could we focus on how rural organizations have already adapted to their context and to learn from them? Could urban arts organizations take more of a chance with less centric ideas rather than being so focused looking. Could we place a rural organization's works central.

And could policies to be adapted to new ways of participating?

There's the culture project coming out of Leeds. But most importantly is the question of failure which allows us to think through COVID-19 as and allow us to think of the failures of our previous approaches and an approach with more productivity and honesty. I think we're in an opportunity to not mis repeat mistakes of the past.

Especially when it comes to questions of participation. I kind of refer to this image.

Everyone knows this work, the Yoko Ono and John Lennon bed piece and them -- bed peace.

What's less known is this photograph of them waiting for the med maid to make the bed.

And I'm not saying that artists are going to be the solutions to that, because artist are also bastards in a way, because we get very self-centred. I speak as an art SXIFT I'll talk about a project that talks about this.

This was a project I did after a recent graduate in 207. I was asked to make a piece of public artwork in Pakistan and I jumped on the plane and felt such a hotshot because I was an international art.

>> REGINA: --

>> I was like I'm a white dude from Europe. What am I doing here? Could I remove the art from that process, from the public art? Could I make prop -- proposition. The first thing I did, because it was a larger artist project, I said no artist can be involved in my project. It's about the public.

I put up a sign in a park and said I'm going to make a proposition. I'd like to make a ship of hope. We have three days to build the ship of hope.

On the third day we'll take it to the canal. If it sinks then hope is dead. If it floats hope lives. The only caveat was artists cannot be involved. I said OK great. Over the course of three days. Loads of people showed up much it was built by house wives, bankers, lots of people. It was my job to bring materials and there were five homeless kids living in the park. They kind of took ownership of this. They were able to communicate in Erdu and translate, and they came along to translate it. On the third day, we built this thing and took it to the park. And good news, hope lives. Barely, but it does live. But all alongside there were all these artists that were really excited about getting involved and wanting to be involved. Eventually after a couple of hours being on the canal, you can help me take it out of the canal. So they helped me take it out. You have to remember it looked like this.

It didn't look like art. When we took it out -- when they took it out, they kind of tore it apart in front of the people that made it. This is what ended up and those are three of the five homeless children that lived in the park. When we use art to make change especially in a participatory manner, to make worse is also change. And also when we make better through art, under what criteria are we deciding what better is? It's one of the ethics and responsibilities when we choose to work with people in the public realm. Online or in the real life. What are the ethics of doing that. There's a big urgency to undo the participation. Ie, because just because participatory, it's necessarily good aesthetically, culturally. It's problematic.

We can simply look back at colonization was premised on doing good. That version of cultural colonization which is still going owe could be replicating that and really kind of problematic ways, and this is an infrastructural concern. Not one just for now, but this is the infrastructure of culture.

And this statement I go back to quite often which is every empire tells itself and the world it's unlike all empires, that its mission is not to plunder and control but to educate and liberate. I wonder how many art projects are frameded in the same way of being educational and lib rayingal. It's the same as COVID-19. A we make the push to the digital, are we actually colonizing spaces where we don't really need to be? Are we justifying our own continued existence? A lot of people are talking about working with online gaming communities, for example, because they're already participating online. And you know, I've interviewed quite a few here, and did some research for online gaming communities that were saying, you know, I've worked with people for years on online games and we've become real friends. We've never met, but it's great. It made me realise that people are already engaging online. Why do they need art so to speak? Why do we need to invade these spaces?

And the comment that comes up quite often. Now more than ever we need art in these difficult times? Do we really need art?

This is the question I want to ask. Do we really need it?

Nicholas Nicholas Berger wrote a piece.

He says we must mourn the loss of work and mourn the loss of jobs and the loss of money and the loss of life and the temporary loss of an art form that requires assembly. Lean into the grief. Lean in, lean in, lean in. We must remind ourselves that morning is it's only in this acknowledgement that we survive. The internet is not going to save us. We are. The fear and uncertainty we feel right now to an industry we have dedicated our lives to a halt is real. We don't have to pretend it isn't but we don't have to keep on making. Do we need to necessarily translate everything online is important.

I think we have to remember as the scene street sign from Dublin comp temporary 2011 reminds us. Art won't necessarily change the world.

There are far more effective ways to change the world, for example working in a soup kitchen. Are we making sure that we're not replicating problematic structures and processes in the digital realm and can we use this time to look inward and reflect on those infrastructure? That brings up my mom, people who don't know how to use the internet or don't really want to engage with the online. Are we kind of forcing our way into that when maybe we don't need to? What we have to remember is that it doesn't have to be digital.

>> REGINA: . Right now, it just has to be socially distanced.

We can think about you how we have survived. A month and a ago. He created a dance work for parked cars. By allowing our artists to be innovative, we don't necessarily have to translate everything into the digital realm. Sometimes we might not need to because it doesn't work. We need to think how to be socially distanced and remember our history. The quote good working infrastructure transparent to use is fan Taft and I can only when an infrastructure breaks down that we see the breaks and chasms as Jennifer said in the beginning.

We don't have to reinvent the wheel. We have to think about how the structures we're interested in can be pushed through and thought for in a different way but making sure we're not replicating the problems of the past. Artists, we have a tendency to live in a blanket silo. I've been working with people in occupational health for ways to engage while online. We did a project where we share photographs of our day and tie to replicate that.

We're recognizing we can develop relationships and emotional sectivity by doing really simple projects. We're not creating anything bombastic. We're creating quite long-lasting meaningful relationships and lastly it's about being brave.

So I'm going to refer back to things fall apart which is a line from the slouching towards the second coming that I started with. But a man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving.

They all have food in their their homes. When we gather in together in the moonlit village ground, it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. This coming together is really important.

It's all the temporary space.

Yes we have to adapt and think about that. But this like everything is a temporary space.

And that, I think, there's power in it because it doesn't give us too many emphasis on what we have to do because that's going to change as well. I want to remind everyone something I tell myself every day is everything's going to be OK. So thank you very much. I'll hopefully now close that and open it up to any kinds of questions if there are any. 4 I will leave that at a pause. Oh, there's questions.

Hold on. I've got to open that question. Will I address inequitable access to the internet as well?

Responsibility emerging with the field. Absolutely. I think there are huge inequitable problems and I don't think we are necessarily able to deal with all of those. And there's another question from Stephanie.

How do we legitimize people participating in their cultures in a wider society. Is it our job to legitimize that? That's already a legitimate process of expression. The question I would argue is that are we actually going to fund it better? That's a different question. And I would say yes,s we will need to. In order to do that, we have to really kind of challenge the sort of embedded assumptions of what culture is, because I think that is a huge problem in the first place. I think, you know,y we don't --

time span is a perfect example in Helmsdale which is a tiny village of 600 people who have very few black, minority, ethnic people within the village, and yet have approached an entire decolonizing consideration to their entire strategy. And so they're talking about the Huntley library which is a radical Black library and educating a small village in the north of Scotland about these things because they've been brave enough to think through what that means. Again we look to the rural, because they're on the periphery and able to go right, we're going to think through this really differently.

And I think that are all the questions that are there.

Unless there's some more questions that are coming. Give it a pause. I hope I didn't speak too fast. I got very excited. Thank you very much.

If not, I will hand you back to the organizing group. I'm always available.

>> Thank you.

>> Questions if you want to have questions or e-mail me. I can make my presentation available should you need it. Oh and how did I end up on that wall? I forgot to say. There were shoes nailed to the wall and I climbed into the shoes.

>> OK. Thank you so much, Dr. Anthony Schrag. It was very, very useful. Amazing speech. Thank you so much. So now we're going to have a short break, and after this break, my colleague Amanda will introduce our first artist for today. So let's meet at 12:00 p.m., please. See you there.

Welcome and Keynote Address Chat Log

Below is a log of the live chat that occurred during this talk. The format is:




Emojis that were used in the chat will appear between colons, e.g., :smile:

Chat Log:


Kyla Ross

HI everyone! looking forward to today's sessions and performances! thanks for joining us - The Culture's Compass Team!


Kyla Ross

Just a note that you can update your profile in crowdcast in the pop-out menu bar to the left. Feel free to update it with a photo of yourself and a little info about who you are, where you're from and your contact info if you wish to share it! Have a wonderful day!


Angela Songui

Good morning from MOCA - looking forward with interest!


Culture's Compass

Welcome everyone! We are getting things ready and will be live shortly :smile:


Kendra Miller

So excited for this conference!


Kristian Clarke



Nancy Moniz

Good morning!


Akshata Naik

Morning! Looking forward to this event.


G Chana

Good Morning Everyone


Anthony Schrag

Good afternoon from Scotland!


Michelle Yeung

Hello and good morning!


Robert Sauvey

Good Morning!


Liz Pead

Hi Scotland, from Toronto!


Kristian Clarke

Some tech challenges, I assume!


Vicki Hargreaves

People using the emaillink are stuck in limbo. Is this the better screen?


Chris Coxson

Hello, tried other link and here I am


Vicki Hargreaves



Kristian Clarke



Anthony Schrag

oh hi, Toronto! Its lovely to be with you.


Kristian Clarke



Anna Quon

in the upperleft hand corner of my screen i clicked on session 2 that was suppsoed to start at 11



Hello Al, trying this link as well and looks like it is working here.


Anna Quon

and have the SPeaker is getting ready screen


Ida Casilli



Chris Coxson

I have that screen too


Jennifer Gordon

We are getting ready!


Culture's Compass

Hi everyone! We had an earlier session that had to be cancelled. Anna Quon you have it right! Folk should direct themselves to the second session


Vicki Hargreaves

Jennifer, is there any way to make a general announcement? The link through the email goes elsewhere.


Julian Sleath

If you are in Scotland ( & elsewhere ) I hope you have seen Janey Godley's voiceovers of the daily press briefings by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Very funny to someone like me who has lived in Edinburgh & Glasgow. Hi also from Toronto.


Anthony Schrag

I was in the 'green room' a moment ago getting ready, and it seemed to be working, so I guess we just sit tight. In the real world, we could all be chatting and drinking our coffees in a hall somewhere... I sort of miss those odd moments!


Liz Pead

raising my cuppa to the East!


Anthony Schrag

Janey Godley is our hero! #janeygodleyvoiceover if anyone needs a laugh while you're waiting


Liz Pead



Anthony Schrag

(and I to the west!)


Ida Casilli

Hey Julian, yes I am in Scotland and I have shared them. People loved them!


Julian Sleath

Must be ashocker for there to be no Edinburgh Festivals this summer.



Hello from Glasgow, Scotland. <3 Jane Godley :stuck_out_tongue:


Anthony Schrag

oh, as a local, we're quite excited NOT to have a festival! FINALLY we have our city back! ha!


Anthony Schrag

(though dreading the financial impact, obviously)


Meaghan Froh Metcalf

Ah, just watched the voiceover with Nicole Sturgeon. So good! Thanks for the recommendation


Julian Sleath

I used to live in a tenement directly opposite the Fringe office !


Anthony Schrag

@julian - yikes! commiserations....!


Anthony Schrag

oh! something happening - here we go....!


Chris Coxson

Here in Toronto all large live events cancelled, including TIFF


Julian Sleath

Actually it was great - I worked for Assembly and then the Festival.





Kristen Turner

Yay Mikita!


Pam Briz

woo hoo!


Julian Sleath

Weon the go - hurrah.


Anna Quon

all good


Chris Coxson



Michelle Yeung

Thumbs up!


Vicki Hargreaves

NO probs


Liz Pead

got it! good job techies!!!



TIFF is still happening, just online and available to a wider audience!





Amy Dennis



Kristian Clarke

Happy,happy, joy, joy!


Chris Coxson

Yes, I know, I've worked for them last 8 years


Sage Petahtegoose




me too!


Inga Untiks

Woo hoo!





Pam Briz



Anthony Schrag






Anthony Schrag

much better!



Turn off your computer audio!


Michelle Yeung

I am not hearing feedback.


Amy Dennis

Sounds fine to me



Sounds fine to me too



love that





Liz Pead

:slightly_smiling_face: organizers...amazing!!!


Regan Jane Hayward

Glad to be here!!!


Shaun William Scott

Hi all


Kristopher Dorneles






Regan Jane Hayward



Jennifer Gordon

All good!


Shimea Eristhee



Kristian Clarke

That live captioning function is so caol!


Anna Quon



Kristian Clarke



Anthony Schrag



Culture's Compass

We can see you!


Kyla Ross

All good there Gina!!


Sage Petahtegoose

Go Gina!


Anthony Schrag

:thumbs up:


Kyla Ross

We can see and hear you! but no screen share



Aaniin Gina!


Jennifer Gordon



Jennifer Gordon

we see you now, but not the presentation


Shaun William Scott



Kyla Ross



Vicki Hargreaves



Jenneen Beattie

Is there a link to the schedule for today?


Guillermo Acosta

This is amazing Gina. Thank you for sharing!


Mikita Arlou


Robert Sauvey

link to schedule


Jenneen Beattie

Thank you


Michelle Yeung

schedule is also in the top corner. click more


Diane Davy

Love hearing personal stories. Warms my heart.


Shaun William Scott

i love this


Jennifer Gordon

Miigwech Regina!


Belinda Cunha

:clap: Wonderful! Thank you for sharing your personal story!


Anthony Schrag

thank you


Nancy Moniz

Thank you!


Sage Petahtegoose

Thank you Gina!!!


Kendra Miller

That was incredible. Thank you!


Vicki Hargreaves

This presentation should go to school boards and teachers. Accessible and beautiful.


Hana Glaser

Thank you !


Kyla Ross

Thank you Gina!


Kristian Clarke



Sage Petahtegoose



Shaun William Scott



Tayler Buchanan

Thank you!


Chris Coxson

That was encouraging and beautiful


Stephanie Pollard



Tanika Johnny



Maj-Britt Kott

Thank you Regina for sharing! That was amazing.


Anthony Schrag






Guillermo Acosta

Thank you so much Gina! I learn from each interaction with you.


Caitie McKinnon

Hi Anthony and Maj-Britt!


Anthony Schrag

CAITIE! Aw, I'm so glad you guys are here!


Maj-Britt Kott

Hi Caitie and Anthony! So good to 'see' you! :slightly_smiling_face:


Shaun William Scott

I'm going to study this masters! So excited :slightly_smiling_face: Hi Anthony!!


Culture's Compass



Sage Petahtegoose

:thumbs up:


Liz Pead



Jennifer Gordon

:thumbs up: :thumbs up:


Kristen Turner



Regan Jane Hayward

:thumbs up:


Maj-Britt Kott

Sound is great!


Jennifer Gordon

:thumbs up:


Shaun William Scott

Yep.. we can see it



Well done  guys





Kristen Turner



Kristian Clarke

Feeling safe enough to have a dangerous conversation!


Sonya Blazek

Frozen screen on my end - can not hear conversation but live time is running


Shaun William Scott

wow this is so cool


Sonya Blazek



Diane Davy

Art and humanity - love it.


Akshata Naik

This is so interesting, thanks for sharing @Anthony Schrag


Kristian Clarke

The object is the catalyst for interaction/art


Shaun William Scott

I love Billy Elliot


Jacqueline Johnson

Will this event be recorded for later viewing?


Vicki Hargreaves

We need to get culture/arts separated form Sports in ministries BTW. It torques the conversation toward tourism and business language about the arts. Especially now.


Hana Glaser

@Jacqueline Johnson, Yes is will be! Each session will be recorded and can be accessed at a later date. Simply click the scheduled session you would like to watch and it will be accessible to you





G Chana

Agree deeply @Vicki Hargreaves


Shaun William Scott

the balloons haha


Kristian Clarke

Was there candy?


Kristian Clarke



Natasha ARORA

At what time is Gaetane speaking?


Shaun William Scott

Lol im from Shetland, so not connected from Stars


Kyla Ross

The Finding Value Online Panel is at 2:15pm - 3:15 pm with Gaetene, Devyani and Julie


Kristian Clarke



Kristian Clarke

Rural organizations can teach us about disconnection and managing it.


Vicki Hargreaves

Must do this collaborative work with communities outside of urban areas. Especially as artists flee the cities as financial refugees. Rural areas don't have access to foundations and grants that people in TO or other major urban centres do.


Regan Jane Hayward

amazing presentation!!!


Kristian Clarke



Shaun William Scott

Im very interested in Online Gaming Communities... i myself have been doing research within this area for some time now. Great point @Anthony


Ginger Grant

Excellent presentation, thank you!


Regan Jane Hayward

thank YOU very much :slightly_smiling_face:



Thank you!


Tanika Johnny




APPLAUSE!!! Brilliant!


Shaun William Scott

Thanks Anthony


Kristian Clarke



Kristen Turner

Amazing!! Thank you!


Regan Jane Hayward



Serena Partington

Very interesting, thank you very much!



Brilliant presentation! Thank you!


Culture's Compass

Thank you for an excellent presentation Anthony!!





Pam Briz

Thank you!  So interesting


Robert Sauvey

Thank you! Interesting presentation


Nancy Moniz

Excellent! Thank you


Angela Songui

Fantastic Anthony!!


Maj-Britt Kott

Thank you so much Anthony! Such an engaging presentation


Marilyn Jacko

Miigwetch (thank you) Anthony


Stephanie Pollard

That's definitely a WAY better question - and response- thank you!


Maj-Britt Kott

So, how did you actually end up on that wall?


Celyne Gaspe

THank you very interesting



that was great, and so funny.


Shaun William Scott

Hi Anthony, look forward to the MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management masters


Anthony Schrag

Thank you all


Jennifer Gordon

Hi Anthony, how do you frame safe vs dangerous conversations?


Caitie McKinnon

Thank you Anthony! That was excellent


Kyla Ross

We lost you Mikita the broadcast ended abruptly. :stuck_out_tongue:


Culture's Compass

We are pushing our Artist performance to 12pm to account for the delays we faced this morning! The afternoon schedule will remain the same


Liz Pead

That was so fantastic, thank you Anthony! This Toronto will be saying hello again soon.  May I reach you through the university?



Great to hear what is happening in another part of our world in the realm of the arts. Thank you so much .  Realize the wide spectrum and need to share our work globally.



Excellent presentation Anthony. Thank you.


Kyla Ross

Wonderful presentation Anthony! thank you! I'm looking forward to re-watching it


Deborah Herman

Thanks so much for this talk. If anyone's interested, online gamers also support children's charities:



Great Job ...Very well organized .... Good to see you Mikita


Mikita Arlou

Abir :purple_heart:


Krista Storey

Technical issues are everyone's #1 problem right now. All good.






Best Team :slightly_smiling_face:


Mikita Arlou

Good to see me not talking about Eurovision? :grinning:






I was waiting for you to mention it :slightly_smiling_face:


Krista Storey

Thank you for doing this!!  If you are having sound issues, mute everyone.


Serena Partington



Serena Partington

You're doing great, no worries! Sounds good :slightly_smiling_face:


Krista Storey