This project created an open space for sharing personal stories and cultural histories among people from diverse communities within Prince Albert and surrounding area. Facilitated by artist Martha Cole and writer Lynda Monahan, extended the weeklong artist residency where Martha worked in fabric at the community school. Through hands-on workshops, exhibitions, artists' talks and open dialogue about rural life, history, and changing demographics, Martha engaged the community in exploring their own sense of identity and history. Creative collaborative and individual artworks were created in response to these ideas.
Prince Albert-based artist and cultural animateur, Michel Boutin, managed the Aboriginal Artist Initiative, mentoring emerging artists in most in need of confidence building, artistic assistance, and professional development. He facilitated drop in studio sessions and curated exhibitions in response to the interests of emerging aboriginal artists.
The project was developed in partnership with other local organizations including: the Prince Albert Grand Council, the Art Gallery of Prince Albert (now the Mann Art Gallery), Prince Albert Council for the Arts and the City of Prince Albert. These partnerships served to expand awareness of the program throughout the broader community. Lasting relationships developed between local community organizations and agencies, mainstream arts institutions, local government, and the aboriginal community. This community-based partnership served to develop relationships between local community organizations and agencies by using the program as a bridge between mainstream arts institutions, local government, and the aboriginal community. It provided mentorship and access to arts for an underserved community. It also opened up opportunities for emerging aboriginal artists to develop professionally.
This advisory program accommodated the needs of artists with mental health issues. A studio was set up in the mental health facilities, and visual artist Tim Moore came in weekly to mentor artists or interested clients involved with the Canadian Mental Health Association, SHARE and Acquired Brain Injury. Participants took part in drawing, painting and collage workshops.
From 2005 to 2006, the Prairie Roots Project was situated as a downtown Regina studio space to offer multidisciplinary workshops based on hip hop style arts (lyric writing, graffiti style painting, break dancing, music production, the history of hip hop, public speaking and performing) to interested youth. The participating artists were up and coming on the scene and when not giving workshops developed their own high calibre work.
The whole project was a special event, along with a CD release and performance event on May 27, 2005. It helped build a legacy for each participant, having been able to integrate arts and cultural activity into programming. Partners included: Ranch Ehrlo Society, Rainbow Youth Centre, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina HEAT program, Youth Voice Regina, Integrated Services Program, Sâkêwêwak Artists Collective, and the Cathedral Village Arts Festival.
Prairie Spirit Youth Theatre Program was a six-month intensive training and employment program that included a cultural component, life skills training, and theatre development through voice, movement, writing and acting. This was the first component of a work preparation program offered through Regina-based Prairie Spirit Connections to underemployed young adults. Artists Erroll Kinistino (Ochapowace First Nation) and Wolframio Sinue (Ecuador), Mark Dieter, (Lebret) and Birtha Twin (Winnipeg) led the collaborative creative process.
The group collaboratively wrote a play with Mark Dieter, entitled Savage Words and Savage Smiles. This production toured Southern Saskatchewan to the youth's home reserve communities, Saskatoon and Regina as a way for them to "give back" to their communities and share their voices as role models. On the road, the young people were well received by their communities as role models as they performed and provided technical crew support.
A collaborative performance that fused emerging hip hop artists with aspiring actors honouring Saskatchewan’s urban and rural landscapes, Bringin' Culture and Colour to tha’ Core was commissioned by the Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Awards held annually. The performance by Heather Abbey, Eekwol, Def3 and directed by Mark Dieter engaged the audience with poetic rhythms and thought provoking words that celebrated the province’s culture and diversity. Developed for the event, this piece incorporated original compositions of rap lyrics, music and monologues. Working with established and emerging Saskatchewan artists, a high-calibre, theatrically-staged production was accomplished. This production utilized three large stages in an airplane hanger, with performers surrounding the audience seated at tables from three directions. This brought the audience into the middle of the performance; a unique way of presenting.
This site-specific collaborative dance project was an outdoor celebratory performance based on and inspired by native prairie grasslands and local culture. This part of the prairies was experiencing drastic change, with the US border recently closed due to the Mad Cow disease and other challenges to rural life, ranchers feared losing their family farms and there was increased urban migration from young people in the area. However, local residents and businesses came together to share their culture and landscape with the artists to help tell their stories. Hosted by the town of Val Marie, population 140, the project celebrated the community surrounding the Grasslands National Park in South Western Saskatchewan.
Common Weal facilitated collaborative community-based art projects and the creative vision of Bill Coleman that culminated in an outdoor site-specific multi-disciplinary performance in the Grasslands National Park and the village of Val Marie. Leading up to the event, there were a series of contemporary music and dance workshops in Val Marie and Shaunavon; kite-making in the schools, coordinated by the Art Gallery of Swift Current; the creation of banners by 12 southwest Saskatchewan visual artists; the recording of quilters’ stories for an art exhibit in the Prairie Wind and Silver Sage Museum; and the construction of corral-style fencing along Val Marie’s main street as a symbol of a community drawn together in farming life.
The project linked professional dance artists from across the country with people who live in this area, engaging the community to look at who and where they are. The final performance of Grasslands coincided with centennial community celebrations, performances, and conferences in Val Marie and Swift Current. Over 700 visitors attended the event including the site-specific dance in the national park and the street performances by Margie Gillis, dancers on horses and local jazz dancers in collaboration with New Dance Horizons. Artists and coordinators involved included: Bill Coleman, Margie Gillis, Edward Poitras, Gordon Monahan, Robin Poitras, David Earle, David Tuttle, Ian Black, Karin Fargey, Kim Houghtaling, and Ray Gowan. This project had many partners, including Coleman Lemieux et Compaigne, Art Gallery of Swift Current, Village of Val Marie, Grassland National Park, Friends of the Grasslands National Park (Silver Sage and Prairie Wind) Val Marie School, and Mankota Painting Group.
This collaborative community arts performance was concieved by Judy McNaughton and the Prince Albert Community School coordinators as part of the Midtown Artist in Residence program. It engaged five professional artists from across Saskatchewan (Mike Jozsa, visual; Joseph Naytowhow, traditional storytelling and song; Erroll Kinistino, theatre; Michelle Sereda, performance; and Reona Brass, performance). They were hosted as artist residences in Prince Albert schools and community organizations for two weeks. These residencies supported the development and creation of a large-scale site-specific and stage performance event in May 2003. This was an opportunity for Prince Albert families and children to be a part of the opening of the new performance arts venue: The A.E. Rawlison Centre.
Focusing on themes of culture, land, ownership, and community, the project was inspired by and located on the riverbank of the North Saskatchewan River. The final performances were truly inspiring: hundreds of individuals and families promenading by drumbeat and song with handmade candles lit up along the riverbank at dusk. Large red canoe sculptures moved along the waterway at sunset before the parade returned to the arts centre. Inside, gypsy-style dance and song, a flag parade, and potent performance art and video projection captivated the audience. The high artistic merit and level of community engagement of this project was used as a model for the development of an Artist in Schools program. It was also the inaugural event for following youth arts festivals that now take place annually in Prince Albert.
Sound-based artists from a variety of Saskatchewan communities developed these collaborative works for collective expression, exchange and showcase in 2003. The sound-based artists (Oin Nicholson, Maureen Bradley, Darryl Miller, Neal McLeod, and Thomas Roussin) worked across of a variety of locations: the town of Cupar, inner city Regina, James Smith First Nation, and the village of Gerald, Saskatchewan.
The goal of Prairie Echo was to share a diverse understanding of Saskatchewan people and communities by promoting collective voice in a new way. Oin Nicholson was hired as a youth media intern to develop the project. The projects shared the stories of urban youth, life on the reserve, people living with depression, and the voices of older and rural people. Each sound art piece was a unique expression: spoken word, documentary style, story telling, hip hop, and urban and rural experimental soundscapes. After months of engagement between artists and their situated communities, these works were disseminated through a double CD; introduced by a curatorial overview by Charlie Fox, sound artist and academic.
A group of seven women from the queer community in Regina collaborated with professional artists and video producers to create a series of vignettes. I Can See Queerly Now was the product of collaboration between professional artists Susan Risk, Gary Varro, Theresa Cuthand, Elwood Jimmy, Maria Campbell, Wendy Anderson, Maureen Bradley, and Dianne Ouellette, and emerging video artists from the queer community. Participants included Tracy Kydd, Brita Lind, Lori Reid, Ingrid Alesich, Jean Hillabold, Tania Wolk and Mirtha Rivera. There were many professional development workshops in writing, directing and editing, and finally, video screenings and panel discussions. Issues of identity were explored through varied themes and stories of family connections, body image, drag king culture, and relationships to pets.
Together, the series of vignettes created a powerful dialogue about identity, gender, and representation. The vignettes that were produced were strung together to create a 34-minute video compilation focusing on the change, history, and misrepresentation of the community in the media. The video brought each woman’s story to the forefront and was told in her own voice. The production was able to show human experiences behind the representations of queer culture while creatively and artistically challenging societal stereotypes of queer culture. I Can See Queerly Now premiered in June 2003 as part of Nation 54, the Independent Film and Video Alliance (IFVA) conference held in Regina.
Following Up Against the Wall, a previous public discussion on the aesthetics of graffiti style art and the law, this two part series continued to examine the impact of artists on communities. As a partnership with CARFAC Sask, this forum brought the community together to discuss community development through the arts, with a keynote speaker discussing how artists impact on communities' economic and social structures. A panel of artists then responded with their own creative and personal accounts of experience of arts engagement within communities. The intent of these discussions was to spark creative ideas between artists, arts organizations, community people and professionals from other sectors like justice and social development.
Artists as Agents of Social Change considered the role of artist in stimulating cultural shifts. This panel was hosted at the Cultural Exchange (SCES), including artists and community members: Rachael Van Fossen, Neal McLeod, Fred Clipsham, Oin Nicholson, and Sherry Farrell Racette. Not Just a Hero on a Horse: a discussion about public art in your community, was a partnership with Common Weal, CARFAC Sask. and the Al Ritchie Community Association. Panelists and community shared thoughts about public art as objects of beauty, social commentary, or community legacy. Speakers included Kim Morgan, Marissa Desjardins, Bob Boyer, and Christine LaVoie.