Let the fireworks begin! Donna Scott’s recent announcement of resignation from the Ontario Arts Council might yet be a good thing for the arts in Ontario. If Bronwyn Drainie’s recent criticism of Hal Jackman’s matching grants program is any indication, we might yet see a renewed public debate about the arts, a debate that moves beyond the immediate arts community.
This issue of FUSE critically engages a dialogue of the political. It asks us to think about artistic freedom and expression, the relationality of multicultural feminism and alteric moves in identity and representational strategies.
You’ll cover a lot of territory in this issue of FUSE: from the La Jolla Indian Reservation in California to the Banff Centre for the Arts, from Vancouver to Mexico City. These diverse places have an impact upon the production of art and culture on levels ranging from institutional policy to the highly personalized politics of memory and community.
The recent announcement by the Heritage Minister and the Prime Minister in Toronto, (in the atrium of the CBC, an institution they also killed) of an infusion of “new” money for the arts and culture sector was greeted with a bit of welcome relief. It’s been a long time coming. But those of us in the alternative arts and culture scene can’t yet celebrate.
How do viewers respond to exhibition sights/sites?
For the individual writers featured in this issue, visual sights are sites of active knowledge-making with the potential for social and political change. In our feature essay “‘Take good care of it, it is my whole life’: Encounters with Charlotte Salomon’s address to the living,” Sharon Rosenberg discusses viewers’ encounters with the traveling exhibition Life? or Theatre?
The world has changed – or so the claim goes – since 9.1.1. Just how it has changed, or how much, can be seen as a question of perspective: whether one perceives “it” as an unprecedented world event, or as a particularly horrific event that has brought anglo-North America into the real time that much of the world was already living. Either way, much is changing fast: public opinion polls are reporting alarming stats about citizens willing to give up civil liberties for a comfort and safety they thought they had, but never really did.
Last summer, before the events of September 11, Francis Coppola’s famous film about the Vietnam war, Apocalypse Now, was re-released. Despite its confused and often offensive politics, the film has a quality that is rare among American war pictures. This is not simply because it is a war film played as a horror movie. It is that what we fear throughout the film is not so much what will happen to the central characters, but what terrible things they might do and become.
Members of the editorial board solicited texts from a range of individuals who coordinate and administer youth-oriented cultural programs, the young people who participated in them, as well as those, both adult and youth, who theorize and critique this activity. This publication is the result – a selection of ideas, observations, theories, analyses and diatribes about the intersection of youth and culture.
Arts funding has been a long-term obsession for FUSE. Typically, as in this case, our interest is precipitated by a crisis. Still, you needn’t look back further than the late 1980s to find FUSE articles about artists protesting for a living wage.
COMING OUT OF THE MARGINS
In speaking from the margins, community and participatory art practices provide an analysis that offers a much needed alternative to mainstream practices and institutions. By engaging with issues of social justice and democracy, producing work that isn’t object driven, activating and involving a broader audience in creating meaning and recognizing alliances across disciplines and communities, community arts are positioned to offer a critique that is integral to producing a third reading – one that activates an audience to conceptualize meaning through participation.