Indigenous Curation and Community Exhibition Training

Overview of proposed activities

This proposed project is intended to seed post-pandemic digital skills development, cultural entrepreneurship training and participation in the arts economy for emerging and established Indigenous artists.

Participants will receive hands-on and virtual mentorship in planning and executing training workshops to build skills in curation and exhibition of digital and physical art.

This will be packaged into an approximate 5-8 week hybrid curriculum which can be delivered as a stand-alone training product, and as part of a broader program.

Context and Background

This project is a true STEAM project in that it engages the traditional STEM disciplines with the arts, in this case, the arts of photography, filmmaking and generative art. This project has been training a small team of Indigenous youth via existing community-based projects since early 2020 (pre-pandemic). A significant component of this project will involve using the curation and exhibition training we want to develop in order to help kickstart capacity building, part-time, meaningful work and hands-on experiences that will contribute to increased economic opportunities.

Many artists have struggled, and it has been particularly difficult in smaller, northern and rural communities like ours that have not had the ability, due to restrictions, to travel for usual conferences, training and events.

We believe this program is of great value in rejuvenating community engagement through the arts; for networking and artistic
growth.

The program will engage this small team of Indigenous learners from Nunavut, Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba in learning about two interrelated components: a) curation and exhibition of digital and physical installation; and b) cultural entrepreneurship training framework to promote skills development and real-world arts industry experience. Participating artists will learn about arts-based approaches to curating photography, documentary filmmaking and digital tools to create generative art and experiences for visitors centres, galleries and other such spaces. Participants will also create short 3-5 minute documentary films that will be used as part of a proposed, replicable curriculum that will be designed for hybrid/in-person delivery.

Sectoral challenges

Indigenous artists in Northern, remote and rural communities face many barriers and challenges in accessing opportunities for arts industry training and development.

Technical challenges, particularly in the area of access to digital tools, bandwidth and network infrastructure for high-bandwidth are obstacles most all involved in our project have to deal with. As a result, efforts will continue to focus on identifying tools and approaches to mitigate the digital disconnect facing our communities. We will work to overcome some of these barriers through exploring how to adapt our processes, distribution of effort and teamwork across communities.

This project is intended to seed additional community projects that are planning to re-start post-pandemic. We will explore training and real-world exhibition and curation of hybrid digital and physical installations for conferences, gallery spaces, museums and visitors centres in addition to using photography, video, generative art and other arts-based approaches. There is also a need for more training in summer periods, particularly for smaller communities like Arviat or Borups Corners where youth are employed. There is a need for transferable skills development, particularly for the youth that can work across sectors, such as tourism (visitor centres), community=based and visiting researchers, artist workshops, etc. There is very little available for courses and programs from most any northern university or community college in most of our areas. Our aim is to have this training available as a replicable model for other communities to use and adapt.

This proposed project builds on more than a decade of community-based, participatory research, arts training and approaches developed by the Arviat Film Society and Arviat Television. The project will work with now adult, emerging Indigenous youth artists from Nunavut, Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. There is a great need for re-initiating training and work opportunities in the arts post-pandemic.

The need and desire to see opportunities for training of this nature is the result of extensive community discussion and consultation and is made possible through more than three years of pre-existing research piloted in multiple diverse communities including: Arviat, Rankin Inlet, Pond Inlet, Iqaluit, Cape Dorset, Winnipeg, Tuktoyaktuk, Borups Corners and Dryden.

This proposal has received extensive discussion and consultation over the last twelve months. The first iteration of our project was presented during the Arctic Change 2020 conference to more than 5,000 attendees, which saw our team generate more than 158,000 impressions. Consultation and engagement for 2020-2021 reached more than 200 communities across more than 40 countries. The project was also presented for Arctic Science Summit Week virtually in Lisbon, Portugal in March 2021 with
approximately 1,500 participants. In December 2021, in collaboration with the ArcticNet, Lembas Works, the University of Minnesota Duluth and University of Victoria Community Based Research Lab-supported Indigenous Digital Incubator for Cultural Entrepreneurship project presented the first iteration of our ReCreating Environments of Inclusion installation to more than 1,100 academics, educators and community members.

Objectives

This proposed project will focus on this first phase (Year 2) of our longer-term goals:

There is very little training available or accessible for most Indigenous, northern, rural and remote communities in the areas of exhibition and curation. Our project seeks to empower youth in articulating their own stories about the impact of environmental change on their lives. Over a three-year period, this project will unfold in several stages. A key output following these events will be Indigenous community and youth-led exhibitions.

Other key project objectives include designing and delivering a replicable model for digital and physical curation and exhibition training, professional development and real-world skill building for established and emerging Indigenous artists. The ultimate goal is to see a suite of curriculum and training opportunities that can be made available to communities without a lot of resources.

The objectives for this project also include exploring and experimenting ways to build exhibition and curation training for the benefit of gallery spaces and Visitor Centres in smaller communities. Many visitors centres and similar spaces are key resources for community members, tourists, visiting researchers, etc. but are out of date. We aim to explore ways to create and sustain arts-based and curatorial practice using digital and physical installations. Objective is to create transferable skills opportunities that support economic development, inclusion and participation in the arts economy.

Communication of Results

Results from this project will be shared through blog posts and social media updates. It is anticipated our first curated exhibit will be presented during roundtable panel discussions proposed for the Auviqsaqtut 22nd Inuit Studies Conference (April 2022) and the Mawachihitotaak Metis Studies Symposium (May 2022) both at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Additionally, elements of the project will be presented during a hybrid race and systemic bias cross-cutting workshop to be held in Tromso, Norway March 19, 2022 with funding from the International Arctic Science Committee. A report, materials, curriculum and other resources produced by this initiative will be made available on our project platform for other communities to use and adapt.