As well as our ongoing incubation projects, we have also responded to specific requests for our participation. The resulting projects are more like ‘incubation partnerships’ because we are actively involved in designing, planning and facilitating. They still arise out of needs in specific arts communities but we take a deliberate, ’hands-on’ approach rather than simply supporting with a ‘hands-off attitude as in our regular Incubation Projects.
Throughout the month of March (March 1 to March 31, 2019), Primary Colours/Couleurs primaires partnered with Tah’lum Indigenous Artists Collective; Open Space Arts Society; MediaNet and the ProArt Alliance of Greater Victoria for a series of public events. Sche’chulth was a series of curated activities that addressed the centering of Indigenous artists and artists of colour in the local arts community. These events included an opening reception, performances, discussions, workshops, an Indigenous fundraiser, a concert/dance party and a community feast. The month culminated in a two-day gathering designed and facilitated by Primary Colours/Couleurs primaires.
We honoured the Lekwungen language by using (with permission) the word, Sche’chulth, which roughly means ‘the empty space between us’. The principles of this empty space are to acknowledge it exists and that we have opportunity to fill that space with our gifts.
We provided real opportunities for meeting new people who work in the arts - expanding networks and broaching sometimes uncomfortable ideas that deal with exclusion, colonialism, systemic racism and assumptions about what is art. The need for such an initiative was first discussed right after the Lekwungen Gathering in September 2017, recognizing the need for the larger, ‘across Canada conversations’ to take place within a local context, with local issues and a local audience. The idea lay dormant until controversies around IBPoC artists and their place in the Victoria arts milieu escalated in 2018.
Here is an excerpt from our proposal:
“…present a series of conversations, which use decolonized methodologies - new/old protocols: welcoming, witnessing, polyvocality; no keynotes or panels; planned improvisation; working with the 5 R’s - Respect, Responsibility, Relevance, Relationality, Reciprocity.
In the light of recent events in the Victoria arts milieu, there has been a number of conversations related to cultural/racial diversity, decolonization and (re)conciliation. While useful in their own way, these keynotes or panels are one-off events which by definition do not have the time to delve deeper into the issues. They also run the risk of creating an atmosphere of “well, that’s done, now we have dealt with diversity.”
Banner image: Camas flower artwork by Brianna Dick.