From November 3-5, 2017, artists, scholars, policy and change-makers from Canada and across the globe will explore the present and future of the vibrant and fast-growing field of art for social change and community-engaged arts. 

About ACW 2017:

Around the world, specialized community-based arts initiatives (in theatre, dance, music, visual, literary arts, social circus, urban arts, and more) are emerging as effective and innovative forms of collective social inquiry and action. These engaged arts processes have diverse names including: art for social change (ASC), community-engaged arts, community cultural development and participatory arts; each with its own nuanced goals and practices. This work is growing in many contexts, including: social and environmental justice; education; inter-generational and intercultural initiatives; diverse health sectors; community development initiatives; conflict transformation and justice systems; initiatives for youth, seniors, new Canadians; Aboriginal communities; and social enterprise.

This unique gathering in Ottawa is the final public event of a five-year national research project supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), fifteen partner organizations and eighteen collaborators. The Art for Social Change (ASC!) research partnership, led by the International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC) at Simon Fraser University, has brought together artists, scholars, students and change makers from diverse public and private sectors to conduct research on art for social change practices in Canada, and to provide information, opportunities for exchange, and resources for both practitioners and those interested in learning more about the field.

British Council is pleased to be supporting participants from overseas as well as First Nations, Metis and Inuit youth from across Canada to join The ART of Changing the World (ACW) 2017. These participants include:

Rachel Seepola Michael

Iqaluit, Nunavut 

A young Inuk woman, born and raised in the capital city Nunavut, Iqaluit. My late grand parents’ names are Simonie and Martha Michael. My late parents’ names are Kathy Makkittuk Michael and Bill Fraser. Kelly Fraser is my sister! Family, community, and learning more about Inuit culture and language mean everything to me. I started performing throat singing, and drum dancing in high school with the Inuksuk Drum Dancers Choir, who I still perform with as an alumnus today. With the love, support and encouragement from our choir instructor, Dr. Mary Piercy. I am currently working as a program coordinator with Embrace Life Council, as well as part-time youth leader at the Makukktukuvik Youth Center. My professional and personal efforts are to help bring equality to youth in care. As well as, breaking the silence and stigma around mental health issues and suicide by advocating for myself and other youth in my community. Taima.

Shauna Seeteenak

Iqaluit, Nunavut

Shauna is a singer/songwriter from Baker Lake, Nunavut. Shauna is currently residing in Iqaluit as a student taking the Environmental Technology Program. She has travelled around Nunavut, Nunavik, and some southern parts of Canada to perform hip hop and throat singing. Shauna writes about raw material about how it is to live up north and many have told her how they relate to the songs she wrote. Shauna has many inspirations, although rapper Eminem was a main inspiration to her. Dijana Milosevic is an award-winning theatre director, writer and lecturer. She co-founded Dah Theatre Research Center in Belgrade, Serbia and has been its leading director for over twenty years. 

Brianna Shae

Fort Smith, North West Territories

Brianna joined the FOXY team after successfully completing two Peer Leader Retreats, and now travels across the North facilitating workshops as an important part of the FOXY team. FOXY’s mission is to use the arts to enhance the education, health, and well-being of Northern and Indigenous youth. Facilitators strive to pass on practical tools designed to aid young women in making decisions that are right for them, even in the most difficult situations. Since January 2012, FOXY has reached over 1800 youth in more than 35 NWT, Nunavut, and Yukon communities through over 150 workshops and 6 Peer Leader Retreats that have brought together over 150 Northern and Indigenous young FOXY Peer Leaders.

Rihkee Strapp

Sault St. Marie, Ontario

Rihkee Strapp is an Indigenous/Métis, integrated visual, performing, and community artist with a penchant for cardboard, found objects, storytelling, and site-specific, land-based installations.

Nelson Tagoona

Baker Lake, Nunavut

Nelson Tagoona is an innovative hip-hop artist and ‘throat-boxer’ who combines Inuit throat-singing with beat-boxing techniques. He lives in Baker Lake Nunavut. Nelson has led many workshops and community/school performances for young people, always with the aim to provide a positive, safe forum where young people can express themselves, talk about their struggles, and hear how others have overcome similar issues. He’s in the process of founding his own company which will develop hip-hop based arts programming for schools.

Ana Cecilia Restrepo Espinosa

Medellín, Colombia

She is a dancer, and arts manager from Medellín, Colombia. She holds a B.A. “Cum Laude” in Dance, from the University of Maryland, USA, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Cultural Management and Policy Making, from the University of Barcelona, Spain.

She has worked professionally as a contemporary dancer and dance teacher in the USA, France, Cuba, Spain and Colombia, in collaboration with artists such as Meriam Rosen, Alvin Mayes, Humberto Canessa, Álvaro Restrepo, Marie France Delieuvin, and Peter Palacio among others.

She is a teacher at the University of Antioquia´s dance department in Medellín. From 2011 to 2016 she worked for the Secretariat of Civic Culture in the Medellín Mayor´s Office, first as dance consultant, later as coordinator of the grants program for arts and culture, and from 2014 through 2016 was general director of the Medellín Music Schools Network, a public program that offers music training for a social impact, and annually benefits close to 5000 children and youth in the city. Since October 2017 she is general manager of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Antioquia, a private non-profit organization that offers music education to children and youth from before birth to 25 years of age, promoting their integral development through the language of music.

Elaine Forde

After completing a Masters in Fine Art from London’s Chelsea Art College, I produced projects for London’s Chisenhale Gallery, Arts Inform and the Royal Institute of British Architects. At this point I knew I wanted to devote my career to arts engagement by working with artists and communities.

I have worked at The Playhouse, Derry-Londonderry for years where I direct and manage highly innovative, socially engaged arts programmes that enable artists and communities to collaborate by exploring social and political issues.

International Cultural Arts Network (ICAN) was funded by the EU Peace III programme. ICAN enabled artists and academics from conflict zones including Syria, Serbia, Iraq and South Africa to share their practice with Irish artists and communities by exchanging their skills and knowledge with local arts artists, using the arts as a vehicle to bridge barriers in current and post conflicted areas world-wide.

In 2012, I created Street Talk which is a pioneering youth art project, developed in partnership with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The project uses the arts to deter young offenders from further committing crime, and enables young people and police officers to humanize one another through positive and creative exchange.

In 2016 I was awarded a British Council Arts & Social Practice Fellowship in Chicago. Other highlights of my career include managing a contemporary art organisation, where I had the opportunity to curate exhibitions by internationally acclaimed artists.

Dijana Milosevic

An award-winning theatre director, writer and lecturer. She co-founded Dah Theatre Research Center in Belgrade, Serbia and has been its leading director for over twenty years.

She was the Artistic Director for theatre festivals, was the president of the Association of the Independent Theatres and president of the board of BITEF Theatre, and a board member of national ITI. She is involved with several peacebuilding initiatives and collaborates with activist groups.

Milosevic has directed theatre shows with her company and toured them nationally and internationally. She also directed the work with other companies all over the world.

She is a well-known lecturer and has taught at prestigious Universities, writes articles and essays about theatre. She currently teaches at Institute for Modern Dance in Belgrade.

Benjamin Ortiz

A director, playwright, teacher, and artist in circus arts (particularly clowning), theatre, and street art. He holds a degree in Performing Arts from the Université Paul Valéry in Montpellier, France. Ortiz specializes, through experience and training, in social circus. He was the national pedagogical director for Circo Social Ecuador and later the national circus specialist in the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Ecuador.

Currently, he works at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar in Quito as coordinator of research in the international and interdisciplinary study on the Circo Social Ecuador. He is co-editor and author in the resulting books about that social circus research. He is a trainer for Cirque du Monde and Director of the Tejido de circo social, a national network of social circus in Ecuador.

Chrissie Tiller

A writer, thinker, teacher, advisor and evaluator with an extensive experience of working through collaborative and social practice: particularly in periods of social, political and economic change and in cross-cultural contexts. This has included initiating major artists' trainings and initiating networks across the EU, ex-Soviet countries and Central and South-East Europe. She has just completed a major think piece for Arts Council England on Power, privilege, cultural capital, ethics and politics in arts and culture and recent provocations for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the European Commission and others on arts, culture and participation.