Art Changes People and People Change the World

According to the quote meme on the internet, the musician John Butler once said, “Art changes people and people change the world.” It also seems evident that events in the world inspires the art that people create. This reciprocal nature of society and human expression has mesmerized artists, researchers, activists, historians, and ethnographers for a long time.

So, let’s talk about art and society. How are artists of all kinds describing the world right now? How are art-based strategies helping researchers better understand the experiences of individuals and groups? How does the present shape art, and how does art shape the future?

The Panel

Eugenia Canas (@EugeniaCanas) co-coordinates the Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion (CRHESI). She is a Health Information Science PhD Candidate, where she uses critical, participatory and art-based research approaches to understand issues of epistemic justice in the engagement of vulnerable populations. Eugenia holds clinical experience as an art therapist in child/adolescent oncology, working in hospital and community settings. She is a Doctoral Fellow with the ACCESS Open Minds Network at the Douglas Institute of Mental Health. She serves as mentor and facilitator in local and national research and knowledge translation initiatives, including the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s SPARK Program, the Wisdom to Action Network, and the Collaborative RESearch Team to study psychosocial issues in Bipolar Disorder (CREST.BD) .

Tom Cull (@waltercull) is the current Poet Laureate for the City of London. He grew up in Huron County alongside the Menesetung (Maitland) River. He teaches creative writing and American Studies at the University of Western Ontario, and runs Thames River Rally, a grassroots environmental group he cofounded with his partner Miriam Love. Tom has also served on the boards of the Urban League, Poetry London, and WordsFest. His chapbook, What the Badger Said, was published in 2013 by Baseline Press and his first full length collection of poems, entitled Bad Animals, is forthcoming from Insomniac Press (Spring, 2018). His writing has appeared in journals, anthologies, and he is the co-publisher of WordsFest Zine, an “instant” zine of occasional poetry celebrating London’s literary festival, Words.

Holly Painter (@HollyPoetry) is a spoken word artist, public speaker, and certified teacher. She is passionate about sharing her stories, inspiring audiences, and advocating for important causes through poetry. Holly has spoken to over fifty thousand youth in school and community settings and performed on stages across the country. She is the National Director of Spoken Word Canada, Director of London Poetry Slam, and a former Artist in Residence with Thames Valley District School Boad and London Arts Council.

The City and the Stage: Civics and Theatre

“I see theatre company leadership as civic leadership,” said Dennis Garnhum, shortly upon returning to London to become the Artistic Director at the Grand Theatre. The 2017/18 season, Garnhum’s first playbill the Grand, not only includes a full lineup of main stage productions, but also an initiative to bring professional theatre to 100 schools in London.

As a community, why is it important to support live theatre? Why do we need to make productions more accessible, inclusive, and diverse? What will stage performance look like in another generation? How will theatre continue to adapt and evolve to remain sustainable in an everchanging economic landscape? Come join Dennis Garnhum and James Shelley for a conversation about the intersection of art, theatre, and civic society.

After 11 seasons at Theatre Calgary, Dennis Garnhum (@grandgarnhum) moved back to his hometown of London in October 2016 to become the Artistic Director at the Grand Theatre. Dennis directed nearly 20 productions at Theatre Calgary, as well as productions at Vancouver Opera, National Arts Centre, Shaw Festival, Stratford Festival, Tarragon Theatre, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Bard on the Beach, Pacific Opera Victoria, Belfry Theatre, Neptune Theatre, and Theatre New Brunswick.

On Talking to Canadians

I was recently interviewed by Jeremy Marks for the Talking to Canadians podcast, which is produced by Jeremy and along with Ryan O’Connor. It is a long and wide-ranging conversation that touches on many ideas, including the reign of the algorithm, learning from history, power and inclusion, the value of ignorance, and the topic of water protectors and reconciliation in Canada.