• Activism Series

    CNMN offers a series of knowl­edge-shar­ing and con­sul­ta­tion events for the new music com­mu­ni­ty around issues of activism in cre­ative music. Five online con­ver­sa­tions, rep­re­sent­ing trend-set­ting and diverse artists from the cre­ative music and sound com­mu­ni­ty. This ini­tia­tive under­lines our com­mu­ni­ty’s com­mit­ment to address­ing grow­ing inter­est and activ­i­ties around social and envi­ron­men­tal issues in our prac­tice, towards cre­at­ing a more sus­tain­able and inclu­sive cul­ture that is more deeply under­stood. This series flows from FORUM 2021: Lis­ten up, bring togeth­er groups that were fea­tured in the FORUM The­mat­ic Videos. Please vis­it our Face­book page for the livestreamed event, or sub­scribe to our newslet­ter to receive the Zoom link.

    Community — December 7, 2021 @ 4 pm EST

    In the plu­ral­i­ty of often frag­ile inti­mate net­works of social con­nec­tion, what do we hear that is already there? How do we accom­pa­ny, pro­vide sup­ports, lis­ten for when the notes are caught tight in a net and help with the untan­gling and then lis­ten for the new entan­gle­ment? Maybe we should ask first? Maybe it was already there? Can we real­ly avoid build­ing bor­der patrols, prac­tic­ing extrac­tion, impos­ing exter­nal cat­e­gories, repeat­ing trau­ma? What does mutu­al ben­e­fit actu­al­ly mean? Watch the Com­mu­ni­ty FORUM 2021 video.

    Mod­er­a­tor: Rebec­ca Caines
    Guests: Gior­gio Mag­na­nen­si, Louise Campbell

    Indigenous Resurgence — January 18, 2022 @ 4 pm EST

    How do Indige­nous artists and com­mu­ni­ties respond to the cur­rent notion of Indige­nous resur­gence? How does lan­guage and def­i­n­i­tion affect or effect Indige­nous work? Does men­tor­ship play a role in the work of Indige­nous artists and how? Watch the Indige­nous Resur­gence FORUM 2021 video.

    Mod­er­a­tor: Bec­ca Tay­lor
    Guests: Astro­labe Music The­atre (Heather Pawsey & Del­phine Arm­strong Der­ick­son), Ian Cus­son, Geron­i­mo Inu­tiq, Sandy Scofield

    Land — February 15, 2022 @ 4 pm EST

    What is sound rela­tion­ship with land? How can we encour­age and prac­tice right rela­tions? What are the ethics of record­ing land­scapes and places? Whose con­sent do we need to seek? Watch the Land FORUM 2021 video.

    Mod­er­a­tor: Wende Bart­ley
    Guests: Tanya Kalmanovitch, Heather Peat Hamm, Tina Pear­son, Jen­ni Schine

    Innovation/Technology — March 15, 2022 @ 8 pm EST

    New direc­tions in tech­nol­o­gy, and new def­i­n­i­tions of inno­va­tion. How do we work with non-humans? What is unknow­able in our prac­tice? Where do our com­po­si­tions come from? How do we define lis­ten­ing? Are all things heard, audi­ble? Watch the Innovation/Technology FORUM 2021 video.

    Mod­er­a­tor: Suzanne Kite
    Guests: Amy Bran­don, Tere­sa Con­nors, Hel­ga Jakob­son, Annie Martin

    Access — April 12 @ 4 pm EST

    What’s the point of deep­en­ing access? When acces­si­bil­i­ty goes wrong is think­ing of access as a one-way street, where some­one who hasn’t expe­ri­enced some­thing final­ly gets the chance to take it in. Rather, the access aspi­ra­tion here is a bridge to cul­tur­al exchange where mul­ti­ple peo­ple or com­mu­ni­ties ben­e­fit equi­tably from a bar­ri­er free space to meet, con­nect, find com­mon­al­i­ties, cel­e­brate dif­fer­ence, and share their cul­tures with each oth­er. Increas­ing Access inher­ent­ly involves rec­og­niz­ing or acknowl­edg­ing exist­ing bar­ri­ers. What are some of the bar­ri­ers (in your work, com­pa­ny, com­mu­ni­ty, dis­ci­pline, etc)? What com­mu­ni­ties, cul­tures, or expe­ri­ences does this com­mu­ni­ty need to increase access with these days? Is there a place, an expe­ri­ence, a com­mu­ni­ty that we are not able to access? What would need to change to make it acces­si­ble? Watch the Access FORUM 2021 video.

    Mod­er­a­tor: Col Cseke
    Guests: Chelsea Jones, Julie Richard, Ellen Waterman


    CNMN is grate­ful for the col­lab­o­ra­tion and sup­port of the many peo­ple and orga­ni­za­tions that made this series possible. 

    This includes: com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Aurore Blonde­lot; graph­ics, Mari­ah Meawasige; admin­is­tra­tion assis­tant, Suzu Enns; exec­u­tive direc­tor, Ter­ri Hron. Thanks also to Forum fixed con­tent pro­duc­er, Jeff Mor­ton and to all board members.

    Forum would not be pos­si­ble with­out the fol­low­ing fun­ders and presenters:

  • Decolonization Series

    We invite you to Cana­di­an New Music Net­work’s series of knowl­edge-shar­ing online events for the cre­ative music and sound com­mu­ni­ty around decol­o­niza­tion. These six con­ver­sa­tions address inequal­i­ties and oppres­sion in our prac­tice, to sup­port a more gen­er­ous and inclu­sive cul­ture that is deeply under­stood with­in our communities.

    New music is under­go­ing a fun­da­men­tal reex­am­i­na­tion of its prac­tices, his­to­ry and com­mu­ni­ty. Until recent­ly, “new music” was under­stood among its prac­ti­tion­ers as a non-com­mer­cial art form whose roots were anchored in the West­ern Euro­pean tra­di­tion —which like­wise shaped most music edu­ca­tion and pro­duc­tion. With­in a colo­nial, and white suprema­cist mod­el of cul­tur­al pol­i­cy and fund­ing, “new music” was val­orized and there­by prof­it­ed from the same sys­tems which restrict­ed and/or crim­i­nal­ized oth­er tra­di­tions of cre­at­ing and lis­ten­ing.

    As a com­mu­ni­ty, we need to divest from the exclu­sion, sup­pres­sion and under­es­ti­ma­tion of dif­fer­ence and estab­lish respect­ful prac­tices, frame­works and rela­tions. Decol­o­niza­tion and the essen­tial struc­tur­al upheaval it requires on a per­son­al, com­mu­ni­ty and insti­tu­tion­al lev­el present enor­mous chal­lenges, but guide us towards more equi­table, rep­re­sen­ta­tive, and mean­ing­ful sound mak­ing. Join us!

    April 22 @ 7 pm EST – Decolo­nial­i­ty & Diver­si­ty: New music cre­ators’ per­spec­tives
    Cura­tor:  Gabriel Dhar­moo
    Guests: Daniel Añez, An-Lau­rence Hig­gins, Corie Rose Soumah, Rouzbeh Shapdey
    Fran­coph­o­ne panel

    Five artists share their crit­i­cal per­spec­tive on var­i­ous issues relat­ed to decolo­nial­i­ty and diver­si­ty, encour­ag­ing a process of self-reflec­tion and trans­for­ma­tion of the new music scene in Que­bec. Dis­cus­sion will focus on the dis­tinct cul­tur­al con­text in Que­bec, address­ing sev­er­al top­ics such as lan­guage, iden­ti­ty, dif­fer­ence (cul­tur­al, racial and/or gen­er­a­tional), as well as the artis­tic strate­gies they use to have their prac­tice relate with their polit­i­cal and social convictions.

    March 11 @ 7 pm EST – Songs we’ve always known
    Cura­tor: Cur­tis Left­hand
    Guests: Matthew Car­di­nal, Black Belt Eagle Scout,Wyatt C. LouisHan­nah Owl Child

    Jan­u­ary 14 @ 7 pm EST — We can’t play their game, their way
    Cura­tor: Remy Siu
    Guests: Gabriel Dhar­moo, Melody McK­iv­er, Nan­cy Tam & Leslie Ting

    Decem­ber 3 @ 7 pm EST — Process vs. Prod­uct
    Cura­tor: Olivia Shortt
    Guests: Olivia C. DaviesKim Sen­klip Har­veyMar­i­on New­man & Tyler J. Sloane

    Novem­ber 12 @ 7 pm EST — Can West­ern art music ever be equi­table in prac­tice and in per­cep­tion?
    Cura­tor: Parmela Attari­wala
    Guests: Pat Carrabré, Ian Cus­son, Lise Vau­geois, Dinuk Wijer­atne

    Octo­ber 22 @ 7 pm EST — Decolo­nial Imag­in­ings
    An event in sup­port of of-the-now’s Decolo­nial Imag­in­ings project around Dylan Robin­son’s new book Hun­gry Lis­ten­ing.

    Cura­tors: Dylan Robin­son & Mitch Renaud
    Set­tler com­posers: jake moore, Joce­lyn Mor­lock, Juli­et Palmer, Luke Nick­el, Kel­ly Ryan
    Respon­dents: Tina Pear­son, Tama­ra Levitz

    CNMN presents this series in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Cana­di­an League of Com­posers and the Cana­di­an Music Centre.

  • Equity & Diversity — Winnipeg 2019

    On March 2, 2019, CNMN part­nered with Clus­ter Fes­ti­val to offer a knowl­edge-shar­ing event around ques­tions of Equi­ty & Diver­si­ty in the new music com­mu­ni­ty. We were host­ed by the won­der­ful and wel­com­ing spaces of Cre­ative Man­i­to­ba, right in the heart of the Clus­ter Fes­ti­val activity. 

    We began the day with a pre­sen­ta­tion by Erin Gee, whose pro­pos­al was to speak of the encouragement/discouragement of inter­dis­ci­pli­nary cre­ative prac­tices in insti­tu­tion­al envi­ron­ments. Erin described her edu­ca­tion and the chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties that she encoun­tered all through the lens of voic­es and bod­ies, both human and machine. Her prac­tice cre­at­ing AI has giv­en her a unique per­spec­tive on human inter­ac­tions, on the work of col­lec­tives and on how machines are speak­ing to us. 

    Dur­ing our cof­fee break, Jeff Mor­ton intro­duced us to a lis­ten­ing game/piece that we could all par­tic­i­pate in and that would help him present lat­er in the day. It involved record­ing sounds of rel­a­tive silence and our pres­ence in them and thus med­i­tat­ing on our agency in spaces. 

    Melody McK­iv­er sen­si­tized the group towards some of the Indige­nous real­i­ties in Win­nipeg and in their home area of Sioux Look­out before dis­cussing their recent meet­ings at the Banff Cen­tre of a col­lec­tive of Indige­nous clas­si­cal musi­cians to pre­pare doc­u­ment on best prac­tices for col­lab­o­ra­tions with the wider clas­si­cal music com­mu­ni­ty. They shared this doc­u­ment with us and under­lined its main mes­sage: Noth­ing about us with­out us. They also shared recent expe­ri­ences of work­ing with youth in Sioux Look­out and sur­round­ing reserves, which gen­er­at­ed a lot of feed­back and discussion.

    After lunch, Jeff Mor­ton facil­i­tat­ed a dis­cus­sion of equi­ty and diver­si­ty with Erin Gee, Melody McK­iv­er, Remy Siu and Vic­ki Young. Vic­ki pre­sent­ed the work that Man­i­to­ba Cham­ber Orches­tra has been doing and the IDEA man­i­festo that Orches­tras Cana­da has pre­sent­ed, which aims to define Equi­ty, Diver­si­ty and Access and to exhort orches­tras to take a lead in pro­mot­ing these. The con­ver­sa­tion often touched upon the ways in which many of these struc­tures are in them­selves inher­ent­ly Euro-cen­tric and how that plays out in cur­rent move­ment towards cul­tur­al inclu­sion. The ques­tion of aes­thet­ic diver­si­ty also came up, as well as issues of tokenism, the time­line for real rather than super­fi­cial changes, and the future audi­ences for our practice.

    To light­en the atmos­phere, Jeff Mor­ton offered a win­dow onto his prac­tice and work with the arts col­lec­tive Holophon by hav­ing us lis­ten to the results of the morn­ing’s record­ing. He encour­aged us to find or give up agency in our lis­ten­ing and engaging.

    Remy Siu con­tin­ued the cri­tique of euro-cen­tric music infra­struc­ture and from his bi-con­ti­nen­tal mul­ti-dis­ci­pli­nary per­spec­tive. He chal­lenged us with the ques­tion of what we are will­ing to “give up” in new music in order to achieve diver­si­ty or equi­ty, and sug­gest­ed a few ways to add plu­ral­ism to the process­es and gate­keep­ers. He used his per­son­al expe­ri­ences as a back­ground for these calls to action.

    The con­ver­sa­tions con­tin­ued beyond the clos­ing of the day in small groups and then into the bar and the sub­se­quent fan­tas­tic Clus­ter Fes­ti­val concert.

    Many peo­ple joined us also through the livestream on Face­book, which stayed active for a week after the event. An edit­ed ver­sion will soon be avail­able on CNM­N’s YouTube chan­nel.

    This event was made pos­si­ble thanks to the sup­port of FACTOR.

  • Sustainability – Vancouver 2019

    On Feb­ru­ary 23, 2019, CNMN host­ed a knowl­edge-shar­ing event around Sus­tain­abil­i­ty for the new music com­mu­ni­ty at the Cen­tre for Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Research on Sus­tain­abil­i­ty at UBC (CIRS). The goal was to dis­cuss ways our prac­tice can be more sus­tain­able and the costs and advan­tages of such eco­log­i­cal stewardship.

    We began the day with a Sound­walk led by Hilde­gard West­erkamp. Despite rain and slight­ly chilly con­di­tions, every­one wel­comed the oppor­tu­ni­ty to, as Hilde­gard sug­gest­ed, “come into the pres­ence of sound in this loca­tion, to cre­ate a lis­ten­ing atmos­phere for the day ahead of us, to lis­ten togeth­er to the sound world around us, to the group and indeed to our own ways of lis­ten­ing.” A dis­cus­sion of our impres­sions, thoughts and expe­ri­ences fol­lowed.

    This led seam­less­ly into a talk­ing cir­cle facil­i­tat­ed by Rob Thom­son, who encour­aged every­one to present them­selves, their home ter­ri­to­ry and to share one way that they are prac­tic­ing sus­tain­abil­i­ty in their every­day life. Answers ranged from reject­ing the use of plas­tics in the house­hold to reduc­ing air trav­el. Rob closed with a pre­sen­ta­tion some of the work Full Cir­cle is doing on sus­tain­abil­i­ty, includ­ing effi­cien­cy in the way they book our trav­el­ing per­form­ers and how they max­i­mize their stay. 

    This oppor­tu­ni­ty for each par­tic­i­pant to present their self, sit­u­a­tion and ideas led to an ani­mat­ed lunch-time dis­cus­sion still in our talk­ing circle.

    To rouse us from our lunch­es, Sharon Kallis invit­ed every­one to par­tic­i­pate in rope mak­ing. Once she had taught us the basics, she began to share some sto­ries about her prac­tice of “con­nect­ing to this place through the plants, bring­ing oth­ers along for that jour­ney, work­ing with plants like sting­ing net­tle which can serve as cul­ture con­nec­tors.” Hear­ing about such direct work with issues of stew­ard­ship and sus­tain­abil­i­ty raised a lot of ques­tions about how that might trans­late to music and sound prac­tice.

    For the con­ver­sa­tion part of the after­noon,  Tina Pear­son sug­gest­ed we work in pairs or trios to enable more per­son­al and vul­ner­a­ble con­ver­sa­tions around what sus­tain­abil­i­ty, ecol­o­gy and art prac­tice raise for peo­ple. She pro­vid­ed us with a state­ment in the run-up to the event that framed the conversation: 

    Many in the new music com­mu­ni­ty have begun to at least con­sid­er changes to themes and mate­ri­als of prac­tices, modes of dis­sem­i­na­tion, and pat­terns of engage­ment with each oth­er and with audi­ences / par­tic­i­pants in con­sid­er­a­tion of the real­i­ties of envi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion. Although com­mit­ments can be made to, say, trav­el less, to focus on the local, to make one’s work more polit­i­cal­ly rel­e­vant, and/or to use music and sound art prac­tices to bring aware­ness to eco­log­i­cal con­cerns, are there deep­er and more vul­ner­a­ble ques­tions to be asked?

    Sim­i­lar to the ques­tion­ing that has been prompt­ed by the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Commission’s Calls to Action, it seems that an unlearn­ing process is need­ed, where assump­tions about con­text, impact, own­er­ship and inten­tion in new music prac­tice can be unrav­eled as a pre­lim­i­nary step in any move­ments toward address­ing envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­i­ty.

    It makes sense to first ask what each indi­vid­ual, and the com­mu­ni­ty, intends to sus­tain. Exam­in­ing val­ues, ethics and beliefs about belong­ing, roles, respon­si­bil­i­ties, rights, lin­eages and lega­cies can be illu­mi­nat­ing, as can defin­ing what “com­mu­ni­ty” means when things fall apart.

    Ques­tions of stew­ard­ship of the place we inhab­it, for some, pri­or­i­tizes the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of a lifestyle, a job, or of human sus­tain­abil­i­ty – ensur­ing opti­mum sur­vival of upcom­ing gen­er­a­tions. For oth­ers, stew­ard­ship is weight­ed toward sus­tain­abil­i­ty of the plan­et as a liv­ing enti­ty, there­by sac­ri­fic­ing cur­rent human lifestyle priv­i­leges in order to leave as gen­tle a foot­print as pos­si­ble. For still oth­ers, sus­tain­abil­i­ty is focused so ful­ly and com­plete­ly on prac­tice that oth­er mat­ters are assumed to, and per­haps do, take care of them­selves.

    After shar­ing some of our small group dis­cus­sions, Tina led us in a prac­tice of Pauline Oliv­eros’ Heart Chant.

    Dur­ing the day, the con­ver­sa­tions and pre­sen­ta­tions were also sup­port­ed by the pres­ence of our guest, Gior­gio Mag­na­nen­si.

    CNMN is grate­ful to the sup­port of FACTOR for the pro­duc­tion of this event.

  • Acknowledgements 2019

    CNMN would like to thank the following program and event sponsors that helped make this project possible.

    SOCAN Foun­da­tion
    Cana­da Coun­cil for the arts
    Gov­ern­ment of Canada
    Canada’s pri­vate radio broadcasters

    Local & regional
    Mon­tre­al: Inno­va­tions en con­cert, Suoni per il popolo
    Vic­to­ria: Open Space, British Colum­bia Arts Coun­cil, BC Com­mu­ni­ty Gam­ing Grants, Cap­i­tal Region­al Dis­trict, City of Vic­to­ria, Vic­to­ria Foun­da­tion, CFUV 101.9
    Hal­i­fax: Upstream Music Asso­ci­a­tion, SuddenlyLISTEN


    FACTOR CanadaWordmark-Combined-CMYK-Black+Red




    SOCAN Foundation Logo_Outlined

    Canada Council for the Arts




  • Diversity: a rolling national conversation

    A project of the Cana­di­an New Music Net­work, work­ing with Upstream Music Asso­ci­a­tion, Sud­den­lyLIS­TEN, Open Space Arts Soci­ety and Inno­va­tions en con­cert, large­ly spon­sored by FACTOR

    Guest panelists speak with local artists and practitioners
    on diversity in new music.

    Begin­ning in Hal­i­fax (Jan. 9, 2017), mov­ing on to Vic­to­ria (March 26, 2017), and wind­ing up in Mon­tre­al (May 1, 2017), this rolling nation­al con­ver­sa­tion on diver­si­ty in new music was bound to come up with new per­spec­tives, nov­el approach­es and cre­ative solutions.

    Please read the fol­low­ing reports by Jen­nifer War­ing to find out what was dis­cussed and came up:

    Hal­i­fax – Communicating
    Mon­tre­al – Man­date: a sticky issue
    Vic­to­ria – audi­ence engagement

    We would like to thank our part­ners and spon­sors for mak­ing this project possible.

    Community cards from all 3 sessions:

  • Diversity: Report on the Halifax Session

    Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 9 | 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM AST
    Room 401, Dal­housie Arts Cen­tre – 6101 University
    As part of Open Waters Fes­ti­val 2017

    A CNMN project fund­ed by Fac­tor and pre­sent­ed in Hal­i­fax by Upstream Music Asso­ci­a­tion and SuddenlyLISTEN

    Report: Jen­nifer Waring

    The ses­sion in Hal­i­fax was a great kick-off to CNMN’s Rolling Nation­al Con­ver­sa­tion. (The next iter­a­tions take place in Vic­to­ria on March 26 and in Mon­tre­al on May 1.)  Twen­ty-three peo­ple attend­ed, with anoth­er 15 con­nect­ing via live stream­ing.  The three-hour event was divid­ed equal­ly between a pan­el dis­cus­sion with audi­ence input con­duct­ed in the round, and a cir­cle exer­cise, which broke out into small­er dis­cus­sion groups.

    Ellen Water­man, eth­no­mu­si­col­o­gist and impro­vis­er (St. John’s)

    Juli­et Palmer, facilitator/composer/collaborator/AD Urban Ves­sel (Toron­to)
    Rémy Bélanger de Beau­port, free improviser/organizer (Que­bec City)
    Dinuk Wijer­atne, composer/pianist/conductor (Hal­i­fax)


    The Hal­i­fax ses­sion was about com­mu­ni­cat­ing, what con­sti­tutes com­mu­ni­ca­tion, how we under­take it and to whom. Orga­niz­ers framed the issue as follows:

    Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is a two-way street that entails both clar­i­ty of expres­sion and active lis­ten­ing. Effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion is more than a sim­ple exchange of infor­ma­tion; it means under­stand­ing the emo­tion and inten­tions behind the infor­ma­tion. If we want to increase diver­si­ty in con­tem­po­rary music, we need to become more aware of what kinds of mes­sages we are send­ing to audi­ences and musi­cians. We also need to seek oppor­tu­ni­ties to lis­ten to peo­ple who are not already involved in con­tem­po­rary music to find out what they need and want, and what would con­sti­tute a wel­com­ing envi­ron­ment for participation. 

    In this dis­cus­sion, we will explore some of our motives and means for effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion both with­in and beyond the “bor­ders” of our con­tem­po­rary music scenes.  What are our motives for seek­ing a more diverse range of par­tic­i­pants and expres­sion in con­tem­po­rary music? What kinds of mes­sages are we cur­rent­ly send­ing through our pro­gram­ming and mar­ket­ing? What poten­tial audi­ence do we miss or even exclude? And in pro­gram­ming, are we open and wel­com­ing in whom we present? Do we active­ly seek new and diverse cre­ative voic­es, and new expres­sion, as much as we could or should?

    The first act of com­mu­ni­ca­tion at the Hal­i­fax ses­sion began with an acknowl­edge­ment of tra­di­tion­al territory:

    We would like to begin by acknowl­edg­ing that we are in Mi’kma’ki, the ances­tral and unced­ed ter­ri­to­ry of the Mi’kmaq Peo­ple. This ter­ri­to­ry is cov­ered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friend­ship” which Mi’kmaq and Wolas­to­qiyik (Maliseet) peo­ple first signed with the British Crown in 1725. The treaties did not deal with sur­ren­der of lands and resources but in fact rec­og­nized Mi’kmaq and Wolas­to­qiyik (Maliseet) title and estab­lished the rules for what was to be an ongo­ing rela­tion­ship between nations.

    The Panelists

    Rémy Bélanger de Beau­port has been an impro­vis­ing cel­list for 15 years, and is an orga­niz­er of safe spaces for the queer com­mu­ni­ty.  He brings expe­ri­ence pro­gram­ming con­certs and events that fight against homo­pho­bia, and wants to trans­fer that sen­si­bil­i­ty to diver­si­ty in all its forms.

    Juli­et Palmer, orig­i­nal­ly from Aotearoa/New Zealand, she grew up with an under­stand­ing of the impor­tance of indige­nous peo­ples in the life and cul­ture of a coun­try.  As an immi­grant to Cana­da, she wants to know more about the com­plex mix of cul­tures and com­mu­ni­ties here and how to con­nect cre­ative­ly with them.

    Dinuk Wijer­atne is Sri Lankan by birth, lived in the UK and US, arriv­ing Cana­da in 2005.  He has had a nomadic life, eclec­ti­cism is some­thing he lived with and has become part of his music.  As a nomadic immi­grant, there is “no sense of grav­i­ty”, but how do you turn that into an advan­tage?  Sit­u­a­tions or places where there is no sense of eclec­ti­cism do not res­onate with him. Diver­si­ty is the lens he sees the world through.

    Key comments & ideas

    As dis­cus­sion devel­oped, these key com­ments and ideas emerged:

    Women in new music – It’s still an uphill bat­tle.  Women account for 20% of com­posers in Cana­da but fes­ti­vals and pre­sen­ters often pro­gramme none.  And only 4 of the more than 70 tenured com­po­si­tion pro­fes­sors in the coun­try are women.  Just think of what might be pos­si­ble if there were more women in these positions.

    Whether music reflects the identity/background of the composer/creator

    “The music we are cre­at­ing here is so excit­ing, it would be good to draw more peo­ple in, and more diverse peo­ple. But what is it about this music that moves me so much, because it can be chal­leng­ing.  Is it pos­si­ble that it can only be relat­ed to by priv­i­leged peo­ple, who have time, peo­ple who are already feel­ing good about them­selves and have the leisure to engage in soci­ety?  I hope not, I hope it is a music engaged in strug­gle which any­body can engage in.  But I won­der about this notion of priv­i­lege and whether this music is for all.”  Rémy

    Rémy would also like to think that there is a cor­re­la­tion between his queer iden­ti­ties in gen­er­al, which he defines as non-het­ero­nor­ma­tive, and the music he cre­ates, which is not played on the radio, is not cap­i­tal­ist main­stream music. For him, the com­bi­na­tion between the non-tra­di­tion­al music and the non-tra­di­tion­al iden­ti­ty is a good fit, but then, in gay bars there is main­stream music and in new music there are straight white men. So, what is that disconnect?

    Aes­thet­ic style as a bar­ri­er to communicating

    Youth are open to a broad range of styles.  As peo­ple get old­er, they affil­i­ate with one style or anoth­er, cre­at­ing pock­ets, becom­ing clique‑y, less open and inclu­sive.  Why do peo­ple feel this need?

    “I have a child­hood need for eclec­ti­cism.  As a con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal com­pos­er, I ask myself, ‘how does this com­mu­ni­cate? and what?’  It gets back to style.  If I’m chal­lenged to write a piece that will stand next to Beethoven 5, that brings up a lot of ques­tions for artist, audi­ence and pre­sen­ter, and it comes back to style.”  Dinuk

    Entry points into music

    “As mod­er­a­tor, I want to inter­ject for a moment and say that the door into music is a real­ly tiny door.  We need to ask the ques­tion of who are we fil­ter­ing out in our train­ing – it’s a com­pli­cat­ed ques­tion.”  Ellen

    Relat­ed to the ques­tion of why diver­si­ty is impor­tant, one might ask “what is the motive for restrict­ing access.  Ask peo­ple to jus­ti­fy why the door is so narrow.


    We’re in the habit of mar­ket­ing nar­row­ly to the audi­ence we know, or think, already exists.  Per­haps this is a mis­take. Per­haps we need to assume the best and com­mu­ni­cate widely.

    Com­mu­ni­cat­ing what we’re about by oth­er means – the mes­sages we send out

    • Acknowl­edg­ing that a con­cert takes place on occu­pied territory.
    • Pub­li­ciz­ing that the venue has non-bina­ry bath­rooms (things that a cis white male may not think of doing.)
    • Announc­ing that there will be strobe lights if needed.
    • Pub­li­ciz­ing poli­cies on scent.
    • Pub­li­ciz­ing wheel­chair accessibility.
    • Pub­li­ciz­ing that it is a safe space where homo­pho­bia, trans­pho­bia and racism are not tolerated.

    All these can be entailed in the announce­ment that “this is a safe place”, but is that enough?  Spec­i­fy­ing may be necessary.

    “I acknowl­edge that while some peo­ple feel that these sorts of mea­sures empha­size dif­fer­ence and may cre­ate ghet­tos, I dis­agree.”  Rémy

    Communicating/reaching out – tar­get­ing a spe­cif­ic community

    You need to invest time in reach­ing out and con­sid­er how to do it.  You can’t just send an e‑mail to youth at risk and expect them to come.

    Note about youth at risk and oth­er such com­mu­ni­ties – turn around the way in which you’re iden­ti­fy­ing them, not mar­gin­al­ized peo­ple but peo­ple with spe­cif­ic skills, while acknowl­edg­ing that they need spe­cial sup­port and inclu­sion in the artis­tic process.

    “We will open our doors some­times and dis­cov­er that what we are offer­ing may not be want­ed.  A spe­cif­ic exam­ple is a project where we were look­ing at cre­at­ing an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary project with two com­mu­ni­ties, one in Japan and one in Cana­da. The com­mu­ni­ties had par­al­lel con­nec­tions to atom­ic his­to­ry through min­ing and pow­er gen­er­a­tion.  In spite of this shared his­to­ry and our enthu­si­asm for the col­lab­o­ra­tion, one com­mu­ni­ty we spoke with was reluc­tant to be involved — reminder that your own agen­da might have to take a back seat and that mean­ing­ful rela­tion­ships take time to grow.”  Juliet


    To engage in music mak­ing is to cre­ate a com­mu­ni­ty. But in cre­at­ing a com­mu­ni­ty, you auto­mat­i­cal­ly exclude.


    Idea –  that new music in the “Clas­si­cal” stream is very insu­lar.  It is not com­mer­cial or pop­u­lar, and so gets defined very specif­i­cal­ly, with­in a silo.   We need to acknowl­edge how new and rad­i­cal the idea of inclu­sion is, in a field where the oppo­site has been the oper­a­tional mode.

    Counter idea – that “clas­si­cal” music has always been about rebel­lion, time after time, new propo­si­tions for how and what music might be. And human nature being what it is, as peo­ple adopt these new ways and invest their cre­ative ener­gies in them, these ways become sanc­ti­fied, and cod­i­fied, and peo­ple become right­eous about them. They are not so much delib­er­ate­ly exclu­sion­ary of any par­tic­u­lar peo­ple becom­ing involved, but they are very exclu­sion­ary about what music must be. Then there’s a new wave of ideas that rebels against the last dear­ly held new (now old and ossi­fied) way.

    “I think human nature is such that we have this ten­den­cy to fix things in time and con­text. We could get an [artis­ti­cal­ly inter­est­ing] iron­ic sit­u­a­tion born of many con­tra­dic­tions when we attempt to freeze things in time as clas­si­cal music was con­stant­ly in rebel­lion.”  Dinuk

    Alter­na­tive spaces as a way of con­nect­ing with new or dif­fer­ent communities

    Pur­pose-built con­cert halls are emp­ty when no one is using them.  But oth­er kinds of spaces – bars, etc – are build­ing their own pub­lic all the time.  In an event in an alter­na­tive space, the space itself can be the draw.

    Tokenism – how to rec­og­nize and deal with it

    Recog­ni­tion that the call for diver­si­ty can cre­ate con­ve­nient, token inclusion.

    • A young bi-racial musi­cian at the event doesn’t know how to view/respond to some of the gigs he gets.
    • Some­one relates a sto­ry of an Abo­rig­i­nal artist who was con­flict­ed about the “token” oppor­tu­ni­ties she was get­ting, but who got the advice to “cash in those tokens.”  She then uses that oppor­tu­ni­ty to make space for oth­er mar­gin­al­ized artists.
    • A woman com­pos­er express­es dis­com­fort at being includ­ed in all-woman programmes.
    • Some­one tells of a pro­gram­ming idea that wasn’t car­ried out before she left her orga­ni­za­tion, but which dealt with the all-women prob­lem: with­out being explic­it, pro­gramme a whole sea­son of women com­posers (just as one can still see con­cert sea­sons of all male com­posers with­out that fact made explicit.)
    • If some­one uses a reluc­tance to engage in tokenism as an excuse not to pro­gramme peo­ple of a cer­tain com­mu­ni­ty, chal­lenge them. They have not done suf­fi­cient research.

    What to do when con­front­ed with discrimination?

    • If some­thing is uncom­fort­able, be honest.
    • If it’s an orga­ni­za­tion, make sure that some­one in the orga­ni­za­tion makes the response as a person.
    • You can be hum­ble, but if the sit­u­a­tion war­rants, you can also be direct.

    Turn­ing ques­tions around

    It can be reveal­ing (and was) to turn the ques­tion around.  For exam­ple: “Why don’t we allow more peo­ple in?”  becomes, “Why do we restrict entry?”

    The Circle

    “In align­ment with our desire to cre­ate an open dis­cus­sion, we adopt­ed a cir­cle for­mat. In a forum exam­in­ing bar­ri­ers to inclu­sion, it was vital to encour­age active par­tic­i­pa­tion by peo­ple who had in the pre­vi­ous ses­sion been “audi­ence mem­bers”. Mov­ing from one large cir­cle into many small­er cir­cles, we sought to cre­ate an inclu­sive struc­ture for com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment. This approach was inspired by both talk­ing cir­cles in Indige­nous cul­tures as well as non-hier­ar­chi­cal meet­ing for­mats oth­er tra­di­tions.” Juli­et Palmer

    Fol­low­ing the break, Juli­et Palmer led the group – invit­ed guests and audi­ence alike – in a cir­cle dis­cus­sion.  It began with a breath­ing exer­cise that expand­ed into vocal­iza­tion and impro­vi­sa­tion – dis­cus­sion in musi­cal form.  Every­one was then invit­ed to write or draw a reflec­tion on the dis­cus­sion so far – a ques­tion, a con­cern or a per­son­al inten­tion.  These were deposit­ed into a pile in the cen­tre of the cir­cle.  They were then redis­trib­uted, with peo­ple form­ing into groups of three or four, each group choos­ing the idea on one of the cards for fur­ther discussion.

    Com­mu­ni­ty Cards from Hal­i­fax, Vic­to­ria and Montreal 

  • Diversity: Report on the Montreal Session

    Mon­day, May 1, 2017 | 1 – 4 PM EST
    La Sala Rossa – 4848 boul. St-Lau­rent, Mon­tre­al, QC
    A CNMN project fund­ed by Fac­tor and pre­sent­ed with Inno­va­tions en con­cert and Suoni per il popolo
    We would like to thank our part­ners and spon­sors for mak­ing this project possible.

    Report: Jen­nifer Waring

    The final ses­sion of CNMN’s rolling nation­al con­ver­sa­tion on diver­si­ty focused on the issue of man­date – specif­i­cal­ly, the ways man­date might help achieve diver­si­ty goals, and the ways that aes­thet­ic man­date might con­flict with diver­si­ty goals.  The dis­cus­sion ranged wide­ly, though, as peo­ple spoke about the all the press­ing diver­si­ty issues.

    The ses­sion began with a mod­er­at­ed full group dis­cus­sion involv­ing invit­ed guests and audi­ence seat­ed in cir­cle for­ma­tion; it was also avail­able to oth­ers via live stream­ing. After­wards, a short trust-build­ing exer­cise helped par­tic­i­pants change gears in prepa­ra­tion for intense, break-out discussions.

    The Panel


    Patri­cia Bouschel, pro­duc­er / board mem­ber of Inno­va­tions en con­cert (Mon­tre­al)


    Dar­ren Creech, pianist/multidisciplinary artist (Toron­to)
    Mar­tin Hes­lop, bassist/­co-own­er of Café Résonance/concert series orga­niz­er (Mon­tre­al)
    Cléo Pala­tio-Quintin, flutist/improviser/composer/producer (Mon­tre­al)
    Ida Ton­i­na­to, saxophonist/composer/improviser (Mon­tre­al)

    Isak Gold­schnei­der wel­comed par­tic­i­pants and acknowl­edged the tra­di­tion­al territory:

    We respect­ful­ly acknowl­edge that the land on which we are gath­ered is the tra­di­tion­al ter­ri­to­ry of the Kanien’kehá:ka peo­ple. The island called “Mon­tre­al” is known as Tiotia:ke in the lan­guage of the Kanien’kehá:ka, and it has his­tor­i­cal­ly been a meet­ing place for oth­er Indige­nous nations.

    Open­ing remarks mod­er­a­tor by Patri­cia Bouschel:

    Diver­si­ty, mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, inclu­sion, audi­ence devel­op­ment; all these key­words have become the lin­gua fran­ca of pub­lic fund­ing guide­lines in Cana­da, guide­lines that are strong influ­encers on the man­dates both indi­vid­ual artists and arts orga­ni­za­tions adhere to which, in turn, shape the new music com­mu­ni­ty and its out­put, such as pro­gram­ming and new cre­ations. Let’s assume one speaks against a homo­ge­neous­ly white and male estab­lish­ment that sets the rules of access to per­for­mance spaces and cre­ation oppor­tu­ni­ties in order to cre­ate bet­ter mech­a­nisms that will increase par­tic­i­pa­tion and fos­ter the careers of those under­rep­re­sent­ed by skewed his­tor­i­cal par­a­digms. If great art must reflect the soci­ety from which it emerges, can we assume such mech­a­nisms will in fact gen­er­ate a large enough wave of change that will ade­quate­ly rep­re­sent and be rel­e­vant to our soci­ety today? Is the estab­lish­ment tru­ly seek­ing diver­si­ty and inclu­sion that would lev­el access and priv­i­lege? Is it mere­ly about acquir­ing the appro­pri­ate lan­guage? Are there still valences in the pro­gram­ming and fund­ing that accom­mo­date some groups over oth­ers? How is the focus on diver­si­ty affect­ing the man­dates of both indi­vid­ual artists and arts orga­ni­za­tions in the new music com­mu­ni­ty? What is the inter­play between man­dates and the ele­ments and dynam­ics of diver­si­ty as they relate to cul­ture, iden­ti­ty, com­mu­ni­cat­ing across dif­fer­ence, pow­er dif­fer­en­tials and fund­ing pol­i­cy expec­ta­tions? Are our man­dates tru­ly effec­tive at open­ing access and invig­o­rat­ing cre­ation? We’ve assem­bled mem­bers from Montreal’s new music com­mu­ni­ty to dis­cuss these notions, among oth­ers that will emerge organ­i­cal­ly from the discussion

    Key comments & ideas:

    Set­ting the basic terms: what do you under­stand diver­si­ty to be?

    Respons­es from those assem­bled included:

    • Cul­ture, gen­der, ways of think­ing and creating.
    • The Con­seil des arts et des let­tres du Québec (CALQ) has recent­ly adopt­ed a very dif­fer­ent def­i­n­i­tion: diver­si­ty is rep­re­sent­ed by peo­ple who are immi­grants or first gen­er­a­tion cit­i­zens from cul­tures oth­er than British or French [ref. Plan d’action pour la diver­sité cul­turelle du CALQ, p.3]
    • Peo­ple of all dif­fer­ent backgrounds.
    • Age, income, gen­der iden­ti­ty, sex­u­al orientation.
    • Giv­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to mar­gin­al­ized communities.
    • Man­i­fest­ing diver­si­ty in all steps of the pro­duc­tion of a work of art.

    Peo­ple are in dif­fer­ent posi­tions to address diver­si­ty in dif­fer­ent ways. We need to dis­man­tle sys­temic bar­ri­ers per­son­al­ly and col­lec­tive­ly at all lev­els. – Dar­ren Creech

    Fund­ing: Arts coun­cils ver­sus oth­er forms of support
    Some background

    Arts coun­cils came into being fol­low­ing the Sec­ond World War. The world we live in, as artists, is pro­found­ly influ­enced by UNESCO, which stat­ed in a 1945 dec­la­ra­tion that if you build a world on com­merce and pol­i­tics, it inevitably leads to con­flict. But, if you build a world on com­merce, pol­i­tics, sci­ence and art, you will have a chance for peace. There­fore, sig­na­to­ry coun­tries were encour­aged to fos­ter arts and sci­ences. Cana­da ini­ti­at­ed the Massey com­mis­sion in 1949, which even­tu­al­ly led to the cre­ation of the Cana­da Coun­cil for the Arts in 1957. Most of the arts coun­cils in the West­ern world are all post-war – except for the Saskatchewan arts coun­cil, which was cre­at­ed in 1942 thanks to Tom­my Dou­glas’ ini­tia­tives with regards to the arts and health care. The whole mod­el which we live in is a pro­found reac­tion to WWII and try­ing to find a solu­tion, in order to avoid the next world cat­a­stro­phe, through invest­ment in sci­ence and the arts. – Tim Brady

    We live, right now, in a nation pri­mar­i­ly descend­ed from Euro­pean cul­tures so if you’re trained in that tra­di­tion, you’re deal­ing with that reper­toire, the peo­ple con­trol­ling the fund­ing are often peo­ple who have also been trained in those tra­di­tions – so that’s the music they rec­og­nize as the most valu­able, the most inter­est­ing, the most pro­found – so  [a lack of diver­si­ty] is not real­ly their fault if that is their frame of ref­er­ence. If you want to change that from a fund­ing per­spec­tive, you real­ly need to involve more peo­ple from oth­er cul­tures … [who can expert­ly iden­ti­fy the projects root­ed in non-Euro­pean cul­tures to sup­port]. With­out that, there’s real­ly no way to bridge that fund­ing gap. I don’t know how you change that oth­er­wise. – Mar­tin Heslop


    • Some lev­el of finan­cial secu­ri­ty is nec­es­sary in order to be able to dream artistically.
    • Arts coun­cils and oth­er pub­lic fun­ders don’t always rec­og­nize and reward peo­ple who cre­ate out­side the norm. By their nature, coun­cils can only assess work and artists through cer­tain points of ref­er­ence, or dimensions.
    • It’s impor­tant for the com­mu­ni­ty to fig­ure out how to oper­ate inde­pen­dent of pub­lic support.
    • Col­lec­tive action is nec­es­sary in order to take con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion and ensure fair access and fair pay.
    • Grass­roots fundrais­ing is anoth­er means of funding.
    • In sit­u­a­tions of oppres­sion, it is up to the peo­ple in pow­er to share their priv­i­lege. They should ask how they can help.


    • Pur­suit of diverse prac­tices in music should begin with ear­ly learning.
    • It is impor­tant to acknowl­edge every community’s right to define its edu­ca­tion system.
    • New Music as cur­rent­ly prac­ticed requires a lot of train­ing. Not a bad thing, but it ampli­fies the chal­lenges to par­tic­i­pa­tion.  And it inter­sects with oth­er sys­temic prob­lems, such as ped­a­gog­i­cal mod­els that come out of an his­tor­i­cal West­ern Euro­pean art form dom­i­nat­ed by white, male prac­ti­tion­ers. Instead, we need to con­nect with oth­er modes of access and ways of cre­at­ing that are not com­ing from restric­tive traditions.
    • An audi­ence mem­ber ner­vous­ly offered that as a white male, at music school he did not feel he was a part of any priv­i­leged West­ern Euro­pean white male tra­di­tion, and he doesn’t he feel part of any oth­er mod­el, either. Doesn’t know where he fits – hasn’t been giv­en a lot of support.
    • Obser­va­tion: most peo­ple in Martin’s con­cert series Les Sym­pa­thiques stud­ied jazz in school (as he him­self did) where, off the top of his head, 85% of the stu­dents are male and 95% are white. More diver­si­ty at the per­for­mance end requires more diver­si­ty in ear­ly music education.
    • Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty has recent­ly made a change to its music cur­ricu­lum, remov­ing tra­di­tion­al the­o­ry cours­es, replac­ing them with crit­i­cal lis­ten­ing course and cours­es in how to think about music.

    Role Mod­els

    The ques­tion of mod­els is real­ly impor­tant… hav­ing vis­i­ble mod­els, this is true of all careers and fields for that mat­ter.  A woman, a young girl or a child will not imag­ine her­self in a pro­fes­sion if she has nev­er seen a mod­el, which she can relate to, doing that pro­fes­sion. So, for me, it’s obvi­ous that it’s the same thing for music. – Cléo Pala­cio-Quintin (the first woman to receive a doc­tor­ate in elec­troa­coustic com­po­si­tion from the Uni­ver­sité de Montréal)

    • How has soci­ety changed in the past few decades? In school, our mod­els are our teach­ers but their expe­ri­ences date from 20–30 years ago.

    [I thought that I would] have the same con­di­tions as them. I didn’t real­ize that the world was chang­ing so fast that I would have to adapt much faster. …What we do with what we have and how we can make it bet­ter for every­body is the issue. – Ida Ton­i­na­to

    • There is a need for orga­ni­za­tion­al role mod­els, as well. Said one audi­ence mem­ber: The absence or invis­i­bil­i­ty of some­thing can be debil­i­tat­ing. It means that you have to use so much of your imag­i­na­tion just to cre­ate some­thing out of thin air.
    • Orga­ni­za­tions need to reflect val­ues that are out­side the mar­ket econ­o­my, out­side hier­ar­chi­cal models.

    We have to make deci­sions that reflect what we think and what’s impor­tant to us because this is what we will leave to oth­ers. – Ida Ton­i­na­to

    Artis­tic Pro­gram­ming: encour­ag­ing equi­ty and diversity

    • Per­form­ers need to look for reper­toire from diverse composers.
    • Many fac­tors to con­sid­er in pro­gram­ming. You may not be able to achieve every­thing in every con­cert. You have to find a bal­ance between address­ing the issues and main­tain­ing artis­tic liberty.
    • By default, we are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the sys­tems that have been put in place by a colo­nial­ist soci­ety with racial and gen­der biases.
    • An exam­ple of the artis­tic man­date chal­lenge: the man­date of Mar­tin Heslop’s series Les Sym­pa­thiques is to pro­gram music that is inter­est­ing (tech­ni­cal­ly or semi­ot­i­cal­ly) or inno­v­a­tive, and this already skews the avail­able pool of can­di­dates. It’s a chal­lenge to fig­ure out how to reach out to oth­er demo­graph­ics than your own.
    • Equi­ty in artis­tic pro­gram­ming is not just a prob­lem in music: only 4% of the art in nation­al gal­leries is by women despite the fact that 60% of the artists who have come out of acad­e­mies since 2000 have been women.
    • Impor­tance of devel­op­ing a dai­ly artis­tic prac­tice that includes an aware­ness of being part of a diverse culture.
    • Artis­tic deci­sions should not be made only to meet diver­si­ty criteria.
    • Orches­tral music pro­gram­mers and main­stream cul­tur­al pro­gram­mers also need to have this con­ver­sa­tion because their pro­gram­ming prac­tices lack cul­tur­al diversity.
    • Tokenism: It is insult­ing to be pro­grammed just because you’re a woman.
    • New music cre­ators are inher­ent­ly look­ing for diver­si­ty, and they give lots of val­ue to some­one who comes from else­where. Impro­vised music in par­tic­u­lar cel­e­brates new approach­es to music mak­ing. Cléo gives the exam­ple of Ensem­ble Super­Musique. She has noticed that the diver­si­ty found among its mem­bers reflects that diver­si­ty found in Que­bec soci­ety. They real­ly val­ue some­one who has come from else­where, who brings new atti­tudes, new ideas, new ways of play­ing. The pro­gram­ming sit­u­a­tion is much tougher for orches­tras. In the clas­si­cal canon, there is such a long, pre­dom­i­nant­ly male, tra­di­tion of music com­po­si­tion. It would be eas­i­er to ensure diver­si­ty if clas­si­cal ensem­bles played more new music.
    • Ida coun­tered that obser­va­tion with a dif­fer­ent exam­ple: She recent­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in a pan­el dis­cus­sion where a punk group com­prised of five women and a DJ duo com­prised of two women pre­sent­ed their work. Both groups formed for the same rea­son as Joane Hétu and Danielle Palardy-Roger of Super­Musique: not enough women are mak­ing music. It is thir­ty years lat­er, have things real­ly changed as lit­tle as that?

    It’s true of Super­Musique. Punk group (5 women), DJs (2 women), same sto­ry as Super­Musique (same goals as Joane Hétu and Danielle Palardy-Roger). – Ida Ton­i­na­to

    Per­haps the dis­crep­an­cy between male and female might trav­el across cul­tures, but as a jazz musi­cian if I’m play­ing some­thing from my tra­di­tion­al reper­toire, I’m deal­ing with com­po­si­tions that are exclu­sive­ly white. – Mar­tin Heslop

    Pro­duc­tion, audience

    Three use­ful actions for presenters/producers:

    • Keep your door open (research con­tin­u­al­ly, reach out habitually.)
    • Ask your­self whether the peo­ple you want to attract are there, and if not – why not?
    • Eval­u­ate out­comes. How much respon­si­bil­i­ty are you will­ing to take?

    Per­form­ers need to think about how peo­ple might feel more at home in clas­si­cal music per­for­mance spaces.


    Sum­ming up

    When you’re try­ing to change a sys­tem, it’s very long and it’s very slow. – Tim Brady

    • The lack of diver­si­ty is a huge sys­temic prob­lem. How­ev­er, the flip side is that each lit­tle ges­ture does make a difference.
    • Cre­ative musi­cians are the first peo­ple to feel the next change, to expe­ri­ence first what the rest of soci­ety will feel about 25 years lat­er. In his book Noise (1977), French philoso­pher Jacques Attali sug­gests that music mak­ing is always the canary in the coalmine. All major social, polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic trans­for­ma­tions in soci­ety start with music mak­ers. He pre­dict­ed, back then, that the dig­i­tal era and record­ing tech­nol­o­gy would rad­i­cal­ly trans­form the world. A lot of the prob­lems musi­cians are expe­ri­enc­ing will even­tu­al­ly become an issue in oth­er fields as well.

    Smaller group discussions

    For the sec­ond part of the ses­sion, par­tic­i­pants broke into small­er groups to dis­cuss cards con­tain­ing short­ly phrased thoughts writ­ten by fel­low par­tic­i­pants and redis­trib­uted anony­mous­ly. The full group recon­vened to share sum­ma­rized ideas.

    Com­mu­ni­ty Cards from Hal­i­fax, Vic­to­ria and Montreal 

  • Diversity: Report on the Victoria Session

    Diversity: A Rolling National Conversation
    Report on the Victoria Session

    Sun­day, March 26, 2017 | 2:30 PM – 4:30 PM PST
    Open Space Arts Soci­ety – 2nd floor, 510 Fort St, Vic­to­ria, BC
    A CNMN project fund­ed by Fac­tor and pre­sent­ed in Vic­to­ria with Open Space Arts Society
    We would like to thank our part­ners and spon­sors for mak­ing this project possible.

    Report: Jen­nifer Waring

    Christo­pher Reiche Bouch­er, New Music Coor­di­na­tor, Open Space (Vic­to­ria)

    Rachel Iwaasa – Direc­tor of Devel­op­ment, Pride in Art Soci­ety (Van­cou­ver)
    Juli­et Palmer – composer/collaborator/Artistic Direc­tor, Urban Ves­sel (Toron­to)
    France Tré­panier – Abo­rig­i­nal Cura­tor, Open Space (Vic­to­ria)

    The ses­sion in Vic­to­ria fol­lowed six weeks after the open­er in Hal­i­fax.  It resumed the dis­cus­sion of diver­si­ty, but from the angle of audi­ence engage­ment.  The two-and-a-half-hour event was divid­ed equal­ly between a live-streamed pan­el dis­cus­sion con­duct­ed in the round with audi­ence, and an in-cam­era cir­cle exer­cise that broke out into small­er dis­cus­sion groups.  Juli­et Palmer pro­vid­ed con­ti­nu­ity with the pre­vi­ous ses­sion; as with the pre­vi­ous ses­sion, she led the cir­cle exercise.

    To begin, Christo­pher Reiche Bouch­er, New Music Coor­di­na­tor at Open Space and mod­er­a­tor of the dis­cus­sion wel­comed every­one attend­ing the event. There were 22 peo­ple in per­son and 14 peo­ple by live stream. He acknowl­edged the unced­ed and tra­di­tion­al ter­ri­to­ries of the Songh­ese and Esquimalt nations. He thanked the spon­sors for mak­ing this event pos­si­ble, and he invit­ed the pan­el­lists to intro­duce themselves.

    In his open­ing remarks the mod­er­a­tor iden­ti­fied three dif­fer­ent groups: cre­ators, audi­ences and com­mu­ni­ties, then asked if audi­ence and com­mu­ni­ty are dis­tinct, or one in the same?

    I think they are over­lap­ping. I think that it is impor­tant not to talk about com­mu­ni­ty but com­mu­ni­ties – we have poly-iden­ti­ties.  This is much the case with the com­mu­ni­ties that we belong to.  The com­mu­ni­ties are for­ev­er grow­ing and chang­ing which means that it is not just a com­mu­ni­ty.  When we talk about the new music com­mu­ni­ty, we don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly talk about all the com­mu­ni­ties that share this space. 

    I agree with Rachel from the per­spec­tive of a cre­ator, I am cre­at­ing in a com­mu­ni­ty set­ting.  In that con­text, we make cre­ative work with a community. 

    The notion of com­mu­ni­ty is inter­est­ing; my work is often rela­tion­al in that sense. The com­mu­ni­ty that I engage with is not an audi­ence, or an audi­ence in the mak­ing. I think there is a way of engag­ing with com­mu­ni­ty that will in time become an audi­ence. It is engag­ing the com­mu­ni­ty that we learn where they are, not on our terms, but on their terms.  Defin­ing what an audi­ence needs and wants, changes the con­ver­sa­tion quite a bit. It is a long-term endeav­or. From an Indige­nous per­spec­tive, wher­ev­er we are work­ing, from wher­ev­er you are work­ing from, there is a First Nation com­mu­ni­ty there, we are always work­ing on their land, this is the first com­mu­ni­ty we should acknowl­edge, engage with, and respect.

    Key comments and ideas:

    Bar­ri­ers to par­tic­i­pa­tion as audi­ence, as artists

    • By its very nature, new music is exclusionary.
    • In many ways, it is the cur­rent expres­sion in the “clas­si­cal” stream, with all the unspo­ken clas­si­cal music pro­to­cols that make peo­ple feel ashamed, like they can’t par­tic­i­pate if they don’t know how to take in the event. Con­se­quent­ly, how you present your­self on stage mat­ters; it can have a huge impact when try­ing to con­nect with com­mu­ni­ties out­side the nar­row ones already there.
    • France point­ed out that infra­struc­ture for art is recent in Cana­da. It was cre­at­ed in the 50’s at a time when Indige­nous cul­tures were not con­sid­ered liv­ing but rather dying cul­tures, their prac­tices still banned.  The peo­ple who designed the sys­tem only had in mind Euro­pean-based art forms.

    We live in a very racist art sys­tem, priv­i­leg­ing west­ern Euro­pean traditions…it is very uncom­fort­able at times. – France

    Diver­si­ty and inclu­sion ver­sus giv­ing space

    Chris knew that France had an issue with the idea of inclu­sion and asked her to explain.

    First, I am going to tack­le diver­si­ty. Every­one is diverse.  What is that? It’s like eth­nic food — all food is eth­nic. So we have to be care­ful about how we use these words. Every cul­ture is by def­i­n­i­tion dif­fer­ent.  Now to the ques­tion of inclu­sion, let’s think about that for a sec­ond. We have a coun­try where, for thou­sands of years, there was a thriv­ing cul­ture.  Then Euro­peans come, there’s mas­sive change, sys­tems devel­op that priv­i­lege the Euro­peans.  And then the Euro­peans turn around and are now try­ing to include these ‘diverse’ cul­tures, poach­ing their com­mu­ni­ties.  It’s as detri­men­tal their oth­er prac­tices.  – France

    Inclu­sion main­tains the cen­tral­i­ty of Euro­pean cul­ture and an intel­lec­tu­al tra­di­tion that has been very oppres­sive. If we real­ly want to talk about diver­si­ty then we have to chal­lenge our­selves, be rig­or­ous, and flex­i­ble enough to allow prac­tices and dif­fer­ent bod­ies of knowl­edge to come in.  – France

    And fur­ther: “It doesn’t dis­miss any clas­si­cal music or prac­tice, it belongs to the tra­di­tion it belongs to, but it needs to share the space.” – France

    • An audi­ence mem­ber voiced con­cern about the effect of man­dat­ed diver­si­ty. Per­haps it would be bet­ter to view all the dif­fer­ent kinds of prac­tices as diver­si­ty in them­selves, rather than mak­ing every­one be “diverse.”  Oth­er­wise, everyone’s prac­tices could become a mul­ti­cul­tur­al mishmash.
    • Anoth­er audi­ence mem­ber com­ment­ed that arts coun­cils can’t just impose and enforce diver­si­ty. The sys­tem needs changing.

    Sys­tems and the per­pet­u­a­tion of the sta­tus quo 

    • It was observed that Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties don’t cre­ate silos of their art forms; they have a dif­fer­ent approach to the process than west­ern traditions.
    • Ghet­toiza­tion was iden­ti­fied by Juli­et as a prob­lem in the new music of the clas­si­cal stream, where it’s rel­e­gat­ed to fes­ti­vals, or spe­cif­ic con­certs rather than being integrated.
    • An audi­ence mem­ber called the eco­nom­ic class sys­tem the ele­phant in the room: tra­di­tion­al arts are sup­port­ed by a class sys­tem that den­i­grates folk arts – folk, in gen­er­al. While there is a place for elite art, there is lit­tle impe­tus to include those who are sys­tem­i­cal­ly disadvantaged.
    • Rachel sug­gest­ed that we need to iden­ti­fy sys­tems before know­ing how to dis­man­tle them. Tar­get­ed inter­ven­tions may help.  Exam­ple: the queer arts fes­ti­val encom­pass­es a range of iden­ti­ties, but in 2017 they mount­ed a two-spir­it­ed fes­ti­val, which end­ed up being the least diverse fes­ti­val they had had.  It was a nec­es­sary mea­sure, though, as they want­ed to spot­light that group – and it was a deci­sion of the cura­tors and not the result of any under­ly­ing system.
    • In edu­ca­tion there is the ques­tion of who is teach­ing, and what they are teach­ing. That sys­tem per­pet­u­ates the sta­tus quo.
    • Also per­pet­u­at­ing the sta­tus quo: most peo­ple who are white don’t rec­og­nize them­selves as white. Like think­ing you don’t have an accent.

    Com­mu­ni­ty engagement

    • Art should be for every day. We fall into the trap of think­ing of it as a pro­fes­sion, which leads to the trap of mar­ket­ing and diver­si­fy­ing fund­ing streams.

    Reflect­ing on her child­hood in New Zealand: In the 70’s when there was a revival of Indige­nous iden­ti­ty and chil­dren were taught dances and lan­guage. It had a huge impact on me – under­stand­ing cul­ture as a cer­e­mo­ni­al prac­tice. It was not about an event or sell­ing tick­ets, but a part of life. I man­i­fest this in my own work. It’s about mak­ing work togeth­er, not sell­ing tick­ets, and tak­ing things out of the usu­al venues and con­cert halls. – Juli­et

    The idea of bums in seats is very Euro­cen­tric. When I was on the coun­cil, we had a the­ater com­pa­ny from the north that was try­ing to fol­low mar­ket­ing guide­lines… I gave them per­mis­sion to mar­ket how they want­ed, and they went to the gro­cery store and bought food for a feast. The con­cert hall was full. When we treat art as a com­mod­i­ty, it is very Euro­cen­tric. – France

    Iden­ti­ty and assump­tion: how things look / how they actu­al­ly are and  also how things look influ­ences how they are

    The com­ment com­ing in on live feed that all the pan­elists looked white, elicit­ed these responses:

    I am Mohawk and French, I come from the province of Que­bec, and I live on Coast Sal­ish ter­ri­to­ry. – France

    I am a woman and make up 20% of the com­pos­ing com­mu­ni­ty. I came as an immi­grant to Cana­da. – Juliet

    My back­ground is Dan­ish and Japan­ese. I get labeled as white and straight all the time.  The ways in which I am minor­i­ty are not vis­i­ble. What I find inter­est­ing is that we often don’t see the diver­si­ty around us because we base our judg­ment on what we see. – Rachel

    The mod­er­a­tor not­ed that there is a great deal of impor­tance placed on the vis­i­ble, with the response from Rachel:

    yes, it is our first impres­sion. If peo­ple read my name, they see me as Japan­ese soon­er. I think the look we present does mat­ter, espe­cial­ly in orga­ni­za­tions — we are try­ing to cre­ate an envi­ron­ment that appeals to a wider vari­ety of peo­ple.– Rachel

    Which led to the obser­va­tion that it mat­ters who you put on your board, who you hire, who makes deci­sions.  Pow­er is the issue.

    It’s a white sys­tem – with­out point­ing fin­gers, how do we address the imbal­ances of pow­er and access to resources?  I walk with some priv­i­leges because I come across as white. – France

    An audi­ence mem­ber com­ment­ed that if you’re Métis, then you’re not accept­ed as Indige­nous. The issue is not “who rep­re­sents our orga­ni­za­tion’, but “who do you have to be true to”?

    Because of sys­tem­at­ic era­sure (Indige­nous chil­dren removed from their fam­i­lies, the Japan­ese wartime expe­ri­ence), we are now see­ing efforts to reclaim identity.


    Author­ship and men­tor­ship / inclu­sion of peo­ple who are unable to break in

    • Audi­ence mem­ber – the new music com­mu­ni­ty seems to claim that there are no com­posers of colour. This is not delib­er­ate indi­vid­ual racism but sys­tem­at­ic racism.  How can we help inform these organizations?
    • There are many com­posers who aren’t white men, just look­ing for oppor­tu­ni­ties. You have to go out and find them.
    • When it comes to help­ing artists from diverse com­mu­ni­ties engage in these “white” art forms, its nec­es­sary to find some­one who can sup­port some­one else’s voice – men­tor­ing, see­ing and nur­tur­ing the tal­ent. The tra­di­tion­al mod­el doesn’t work, where the com­pos­er is unable to relin­quish authorship.

    I was the only indige­nous per­son avail­able to take part in a project where a com­pos­er want­ed to work with Indige­nous peo­ple.  I had to fight to get the point across that this was inap­pro­pri­ate.  If you don’t under­stand the tra­di­tion and the pro­to­cols or the aes­thet­ics, then you can’t accept the mer­it or excel­lence. Dif­fer­ent tra­di­tions is key here. – France

    Artists of colour and Indige­nous artists are more sophis­ti­cat­ed because they come first from their own tra­di­tion first and then they have to strad­dle the west­ern world. – France

    Concluding thoughts

    It comes back to a ques­tion of intent.

    Why? My first ques­tion is always why? Why do we need more diver­si­fi­ca­tion? Why do we need big­ger audi­ences? Why do you want to do that? – France

    Smaller group discussion

    For the sec­ond part of the ses­sion, par­tic­i­pants broke into small­er groups to dis­cuss cards con­tain­ing short­ly phrased thoughts writ­ten by fel­low par­tic­i­pants and redis­trib­uted anony­mous­ly. The full group recon­vened to share sum­ma­rized ideas.

    Com­mu­ni­ty Cards from Hal­i­fax, Vic­to­ria and Montreal