Disclosure: I really don’t like conferences. From marketing conferences to tech conferences, where the questions of gender parity of speakers is abysmal, as are any other attempts at representation and accessibility, to the lack of relevance of speakers, topics and how they pertain to the markets they serve – the appeal to cult of personality over substance.
But then I found this conference. Staging Sustainability. Excellent representation of gender, topical panels and speakers, and a stunning offering of discussions and performance.
This conference presented by Arts Build Ontario, a Waterloo Region based organization, is creating a national dialog around two issues that are close to my heart: Art and sustainability.
So here we have it: the arts have the power to create massive cultural transformation. They can be used for propaganda. They can be used to deliver information. But even when they are deeply esoteric and not performing a political function, the arts are a powerful tool for communication.
Sustainability should be a consideration for Canadian artists. Certainly in my own practice the question of sustainability is implicitly addressed through scant resources. There is little possibility for waste and primary consumption (the act of buying things that enter into the waste cycle) is minimal. Reuse, and repurposing is default for most artists.
But is this enough?
Staging Sustainability is presenting an extraordinary line-up of speakers and performances that address this and many other questions with regards to sustainable practices in the culture industries.
Julie’s Bicycle hails from the UK. Sholeh Johnson (link opens to Twitter), manager of their Art Programme is one of the speakers who will be engaging in this national conversation. From their website:
“Julie’s Bicycle is a not for profit organization making sustainability intrinsic to the business, art and ethics of the creative industries.
“Founded by the music industry, with expertise from the arts and sustainability, Julie’s Bicycle bridges the gap between the creative industries and sustainability. Based on a foundation of peer-reviewed research, we sustain creativity, enabling the arts to create change.
“We work with over 1000 arts organizations across the UK and internationally, large and small to help them measure, manage and reduce their environmental impacts.”
This conference also promises to take the question of sustainability further.
Karen DiLossi, from Philadelphia PA, is on a panel that asks the question: How can we innovate in existing arts facilities to integrate sustainable technology and practices? Think of that – using the old and adapting it with the latest and greatest. DiLossi is coming to us from Partners in Sacred Places (with the tagline “at the intersection of heritage, faith and community”). I can’t wait to hear her point of view on that particular question.
And as a final point: what’s an arts conference without art? Worked into the schedule are several performances. The conference is also tied in with the Carbon 14: Climate is Culture exhibit at the ROM.
The schedule of events, panels, speakers, and shows are astounding. The conference is grounded in the arts, is speaking about how to build our practices as socially and environmentally responsible, but also tickles with innovation is so completely up my alley. I really can’t wait to get there. Also, expect to hear more from me about this fantastic event and the Waterloo Region-based organization who is spearheading what very well may become a new movement in Canadian art.