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Community Art? Nov 20 @ Levier

27 October 2010 No Comment



Based on some experiences of the IDEA international Congress 2010, Belém, Brazil (July 2010)



4525 Saint-Jacques, Montréal

(Closest metro station: Place-Saint-Henri)


Saturday November 20, 2010 – from 13h00-18h00


Community art seems to have become all the rage, with “cultural mediation”, “participatory”, and “relational” art projects increasingly being carried out by professional artists with funding from all levels of government and even private corporations. Is this a good thing or something to be worried about? Is enough critical attention being brought to bear on what is at stake for the communities involved? What about the ethics of collaboration in community art projects?

Please join us for this meeting, which is inscribed within LEVIER’s mandate of sending delegates from Québec to participate in international exchanges relative to community art and then sharing those experiences with people back home who were not in attendance. As with similar encounters based on other international events that members of the LEVIER network have attended, the review of the IDEA 2010 Congress will provide us with an opportunity to further our understanding of community art and moving the practice forward.

This opportunity is particularly significant in that there was a good-sized delegation from Québec in attendance at the (International Drama / Theatre and Education) IDEA Congress 2010 and the accompanying IDEA International Theatre Festival. Devora Neumark represented LEVIER and traveled along with Norman Matchewan of the Barriere Lake Algonquin community andDominique Malacort, who was tasked with the responsibility for helping to develop contacts for a potential community art partnership between LEVIER and with a South American organization working with the arts to affect change relative to poverty. (Dominique is also involved in the preparation of this meeting.)

Others from Québec who also attended and participated in the IDEA Congress 2010 include members from the Théâtre des petites lanterns and the Vichama collectif; Émilie Monnet, a member of both the Montreal Aboriginal Urban Strategy NETWORK’s ART • CULTURE Working Committee and the Aboriginal singing group Odaya; artist Moe Clark – who, along with Émilie Monnet presented Bird Messengers; the filmmaker Martha Steigman whose work about theBarriere Lake Algonquin community has been very influential in getting the word out about the community’s ongoing struggles for self-determination; Veronique Leduc whose master’s thesis focuses on community art and social recognition, and uses , as a case study, the Agir par l’imaginaire project co-organized by LEVIER and the Société Elizabeth Fry du Québec; andIsabelle Fortier, coordinator of a research and intercultural creation collective at Collège de Maisonneuve who attended the IDEA Congress 2010 as an observer and participated in many of the conversations between the LEVIER delegates and the potential South American community partners.

You are invited to come hear these individuals talk about their experiences or to share your own:

  • If you are interested to discuss community art practice including théâtre d’intervention;
  • If you are interested in North-South exchanges, particularly in the context of international events, which require significant financial resources and want to discuss whose needs these events truly respond to;
  • Or if you’re interested in the issue of ethics in community art practice. An example: during the IDEA 2010 Congress, indigenous groups were invited to sing and dance at the opening ceremony and throughout the event in the evenings, but were not invited to speak at workshops because, as one of the organizers said: “this was not the place to do so and, besides the event is after all an academic conference and the indigenous people aren’t at the same level of the others at the Congress.” A “scandalously decorative presence” according to Dominique Malacort: unfortunately, all to often in Montréal and elsewhere in Québec and Canada such condescending opinions are voiced about Aboriginal peoples and other members of community art projects in “scholarly” roundtables and conferences.

Hence the question LEVIER is putting on the table for this meeting – the same question that served to open the IDEA 2010 roundtable that Devora facilitated with Norman, Émilie, Moe, and Martha:

How does one consider the relationship between the professional artist(s) and the work of the community in community art projects:


Please let us know whether you plan to attend this meeting and in the meantime check out the articles related to IDEA 2010 on the LEVIER blog:

Looking forward to seeing you on November 20th!

Devora, Johanne and Dominique

Engrenage Noir / LEVIER

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