World Book Day 2020

Back in the Waterloo Regional Arts Council days, we used to celebrate World Book Day with a modest fund-raising project.

There’s a World Book Day tradition of giving books to people who are special in your life. WRAC sold roses for people to give with a book.

World Book Day began as a UNESCO project in 1995. Thie link below is to WBD UK; there is also a WBD Ireland and a WBD Wales.

If we manage to finally fill the gap left by the demise of the original arts council by establishing a new resource designed to serve the communities of Waterloo region in the 21st century, a World Book Day Grand River Country would be worth considering as a project,.

Preferably with a WBD Cambridge, a WBD Guelph, a WBD Kitchener, a WBD Waterloo, and so forth handling things on the ground. And with emphasis on regional libraries, regional book sellers regional publishers, regional authors, regional editors, regional florists, and regional flower growers.

This is one more example of what a region-wide body to serve and represent arts, culture and heritage could do functioning, as intended, as a “platform and mechanism for concerted action.”

005► Five Years Later

Civic Holiday Monday Aug 05 2019
        Shortly after the first Waterloo Region Arts ReBoot work session, I met with Heather Sinclair, CEO of the Creative Enterprise Initiative, and proposed a series of posts about ReBoot and related developments. They were presented as a feature for Grand Social, the CEI portal, backed up on a WordPress site.
         The very first post went up on Civic Holiday Monday, 2014. I explained that for me, the purpose of Reboot initiative was “to set a precedent in which the regional arts, culture & heritage community comes together on our own initiative, and on our own terms.”
        The aim was to build a “platform for concerted action” that would complement the Creative Enterprise Initiative by carrying on the work of the Waterloo Regional Arts Council, which had been suspended in 2011.
       What happened after that is a long story. Jordan Snobelen wrote a useful summary for the Community Edition in the spring of 2016.
        Last month a CBC News Kitchener report raised the some of the issues that Reboot tried to address once again.
       Is it time to finish what we started?



004► Genesius Project + Tri-City Stopgap

“Before Lost&Found, there was Theatre&Company. The ampersand, which signifies association, is a fitting symbol of this longstanding tradition of ensemble theatre work.”

This is a line from my column this week, which describes a new initiative led by Lost&Found Thetare education director Alan K Sapp.

It’s called “The Genesius Project,” after the legendary Genesius of Rome, patron saint of actors, comedians and entertainers.

The ampersand is a fitting symbol here too, in that it is a proposal for collaboration and association.

This is also what the idea of a rhizome network is all about: building, or discovering, the connections that constitute the local and regional arts community, and strengthening them to establish a platform for concerted action and a legitimate voice for the arts in our region.

The Genesius proposal is directed to the theatre arts practitioners of all types, individuals and organizations; established and emerging professionals, but also amateur performers; undergraduate theatre arts students as well as recent graduates.

At the core of the project is a conception of the full spectrum of types of theatre work as a kind of eco-system.

The geography is not just Waterloo Region, but Waterloo-Wellington – the four cities, plus all the towns, villages and rural areas of the central Grand River watershed.

The call is not to associate for the sake of associating, but to action in the form of a set of workshops, a staged reading and a large scale stage production over two years.

The aim is to strengthen the whole by engaging energies from all the various parts.

From a Rhyzome Diary perspective, this is a very encouraging development.

On the day the column was published, the Tri-City Stopgap “pop up” exhibit opened at 151 Weber Street, an empty industrial and office space in Waterloo.

The ampersand applies to this project here as well: As Robert Reid reports in The Record, this initiave led by led by three Waterloo Region artists (Michael Ambedian, Nadine Badran and Sheila McMath has attracted broad involvement from the regional visual arts community, including some of our most accomplished professionals (Impromptu exhibition attracts Who’s Who of Waterloo Region artists).

When I wrote about Stopgap in my column three weeks earlier, which was less than two weeks before the deadline for proposals, 15 artists had committed to showing their work. Close to 70 ended up participating.

Again, very encouraging. This is an indication that something like a rhyizome system already exists. It doesn’t have to be built, but discovered and utilized. And the best way to do that is by a call to some kind of action.

003► arts&culture and agriculture

Wrote about the intersection between arts&culture and agriculture in my column this week (Farmer/chef teams get a chance to shine). That there is a connection is evident in the terms:

Culture in the original Latin sense meant “cultivation”, especially of the soil (agri– means field; “acre” comes from the same root). Then people in ancient Rome started applying it as a metaphor: The orator Cicero is credited with being the first to talk about cultivation of the soul — i.e. “the philosophical soul … the highest possible ideal for human development.” (see wikipedia entry for “Culture”).

From there, the meaning of “culture” in the non-agricultural sense evolved in convoluted ways, to the point where it has become “one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language.” (according to Raymond Williams in Keywords, one of my all-time favourite books).

I don’t touch on matters of etymology and definition in my column, which is about points where arts&culture and agriculture intersect, and, in some cases, overlap.

The Taste Local! Taste Fresh! event where farmer/chef teams (or, more accurately, food producer/chef teams) will get a chance to shine on September 14 has a number of arts-related components: Music by Juneyt. Pottery by Vicky Lucas. Steckle Heritage Farm setting.

Chefs are artists in their own right, as are all food producers whose products can be described as artisanal, including artisanal cheesemakers, bakers, butchers, brewmasters, vintners, and confectioners.

In addition to intersection and overlap, there are also parallels between the food industry and creative endeavour. This is where the relationship becomes relevant to Rhizome Diary, Waterloo Region Arts ReBoot, the Creative Enterprise Initiative, and related subjects.

To begin with, they’re comparable in terms of size and weight.

Foodlink Waterloo Region, the organization behind Taste Local! Taste Fresh!, is one of a range of organizations that serve, connect, represent and promote agricultural producers in this region. One of the basic premises of ReBoot is that arts, culture & heritage-related association & representation should also be complex and multiform.

In my column, I raise the possibility of imagining a cultural equivalent of Foodlink’s Buy Local! Buy Fresh! campaign.

How a variation of the concept of terroir as applied to food production might fit local/regional artistic work is also something worth considering ….

In future posts … this one looks about long enough.

002► all in due time

Monday, August 11

We’ve reached the dog days of August. In my column last Saturday, I wrote about how summer festivals have changed, and endorsed Rick Haldenby’s call at the Building Waterloo Region launch event last month to start thinking about 2016.

Progress on the ReBoot front has been slow. It looks very unlikely that we’ll be able to call together a ReBoot Shift #2 before the end of August. No matter. All in due time.

If we had met in June or July, as originally intended, attention to the current situation at the Creative Enterprise Initiative would likely have been a distraction from the main purpose: to join forces, on our own initiative, with a view towards setting the stage for concerted action.

If we do meet sooner rather than later, a resolve to refrain from talking about CEI for the duration might be wise: Anyone who can’t hold back, and I’m not sure I’d be able to, wcould be encouraged to leave the room. Not because it’s unimportant, but because it is unlikely the subject could be adequately dealt with in an impromptu discussion. It’s too complex, and there’s too much at stake.

It’s even less suitable as a topic for debate in the current municipal election campaign. In my column the Saturday before last, I wrote: “All I would ask of any candidate who wants my vote is: Do you have an open mind? Are you capable and ready to take bold steps and endorse far-reaching, imaginative action?”

Another meaningful question would be: Do you have the fortitude to deal with complexity?

001► introduction

Civic Holiday Monday Aug 04
Over the last few months, I’ve been involved with a project called ReBoot – Waterloo Region Arts ReBoot.

For me, a primary purpose is to set a precedent in which the regional arts, culture & heritage community comes together on our own initiative, and on our own terms.

The objective is not consultation, but connecting, with a view towards:

a. developing a legitimate voice for the arts in our region, and

b. setting the stage for concerted action.

My hope is we see a shift away from talking, all too often in circles, towards action, and that one of the results is something like the “rhizome” network of networks discussed at the first ReBoot session (Shift #1) becomes a reality.

A few days after Shift #1, I proposed Rhizome Diary to CEI CEO Heather Sinclair: A sequence of postings about ReBoot and related developments as they unfold, presented as a Grand Social feature backed up by a WordPress blog or a Google site.

This is the first instalment.