Sustainable Futures Regional Meetings 2023 Report

Hand lettered Title Sustainable Futures

In the spring of 2023, the Cana­di­an New Music Net­work (CNMN) ran a series of region­al con­sul­ta­tions to find out what, how, and whether the cre­ative music and sound com­mu­ni­ty is think­ing about sus­tain­able futures for our prac­tice. These meet­ings some­times includ­ed a pre­sen­ta­tion, but were large­ly focused on gath­er­ing the respons­es of both indi­vid­ual artists and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from pre­sent­ing and cul­tur­al organ­i­sa­tions. CNMN’s goal with these meet­ings was twofold: to estab­lish what would be most use­ful and suit­able in terms of its next nation­al event with a Sus­tain­able Futures theme, and to deter­mine what the com­mu­ni­ty might need in terms of resources that CNMN could pro­vide or help organize. 


The fol­low­ing are short nar­ra­tive reports of each meet­ing, with a very sum­ma­rized account of what par­tic­i­pants shared. For a sub­stan­tial dive into the con­tent, each sum­ma­ry is fol­lowed by light­ly edit­ed and anonymized tran­scrip­tions of par­tic­i­pant comments. 

CNMN is very grate­ful for the sup­port of FACTOR in real­iz­ing the Sus­tain­able Futures Region­al Meet­ings Project. 

Halifax meeting

Date: March 16, 2023

Loca­tion: The Music Room, 6181 Lady Ham­mond Rd, Hal­i­fax, NS B3K 2R9

Co-pre­sen­ter: Sco­tia Fes­ti­val of Music


The meet­ing was opened by CNMN board mem­ber and sud­den­lyLis­ten direc­tor, Norm Adams, fol­lowed by a short pre­sen­ta­tion of the Sus­tain­able Futures project and upcom­ing nation­al gath­er­ing by CNMN ED Ter­ri Hron. She also named SCALE/LeSaut’s three modes of engagement–Greening the Sec­tor, Increas­ing Vis­i­bil­i­ty, and Reau­thor­ing the World–which CNMN is using to frame its activ­i­ties and dis­cus­sions around Sus­tain­able Futures. She then intro­duced Kim Fry, direc­tor of the Cana­di­an sec­tion of Music Declares Emer­gency

Kim Fry shared her his­to­ry as an activist and the event that led her to bring togeth­er a Cana­di­an chap­ter of Music Declares Emer­gency, which was a con­cert to mark the 40th anniver­sary of the Amchit­ka con­cert that fund­ed the maid­en voy­age of Green­peace. She shared her vision for activist work: “What we need to do to cre­ate a soci­ety where we are not emit­ting large amounts of car­bon is actu­al­ly a beau­ti­ful world. It’s gar­den­ing more, it’s con­nect­ing with com­mu­ni­ty more, it’s mak­ing more of your own food, it’s so many things that are actu­al­ly a more beau­ti­ful world than the hyper-con­sumerist busy world of peo­ple feel­ing burnt out and work­ing all the time and com­mut­ing for huge dis­tances and dis­con­nect­ed from their fam­i­lies. So it isn’t that what’s being asked is a huge bur­den on most peo­ple. For most of the world, for most of the Glob­al South, there’s the abil­i­ty to actu­al­ly raise their stan­dard of liv­ing, it’s real­ly only in for the wealth­i­est coun­tries that we have to do a bit of adjust­ment. But I think that adjust­ment actu­al­ly will strength­en com­mu­ni­ty and make peo­ple fun­da­men­tal­ly hap­pi­er.” She remind­ed us that “cli­mate is a huge fem­i­nist issue.” She also point­ed out that with­in the pub­licly-fund­ed cre­ative music and sound com­mu­ni­ty, we are lucky not to be as embed­ded with­in cap­i­tal­ism and there­fore have more space to talk and think about these issues. Kim then brought us up to speed on what MDE has been doing, with its Cli­mate Sum­mit last Octo­ber and the next one com­ing in Novem­ber, as well as point­ed us to oth­er ini­tia­tives, such as Bri­an Eno’s Earth per­cent, which has not been inte­grat­ed with SOCAN yet, but with some roy­al­ty-col­lec­tion agen­cies, where artists can mark the earth as a co-writer, and the monies are then dis­trib­uted by Earth per­cent to envi­ron­men­tal causes. 

The par­tic­i­pants, which includ­ed local com­posers, per­form­ers, pre­sen­ters and fes­ti­val orga­niz­ers then began to share their expe­ri­ences and con­cerns. Issues that came up included:

  • incen­tives for audi­ence mem­bers to use green modes of transportation
  • mon­ey to ini­ti­ate incen­tives for audi­ences to use green trans­porta­tion is need­ed. Where is this going to come from? Are fun­ders think­ing about this?
  • small orga­ni­za­tions are being asked to do a lot to curb their foot­print, while the big emit­ters are less policed, as in soci­ety in general. 
  • llivestreams should con­tin­ue with more sup­port to inte­grate them into pro­gram­ming: increased acces­si­bil­i­ty and car­bon foot­print savings
  • livestream offers remote work pos­si­bil­i­ties in high qual­i­ty with artists/composers remote­ly. The Hal­i­fax meet­ing took place at The Music Room, which is a hall equipped for livestream­ing that is used by local ensem­bles for remote col­lab­o­ra­tions as well as livestream­ing concerts.
  • a net­work of livestream venues would enable col­lab­o­ra­tion across the coun­try and new modes of curation.
  • longer and slow­er tours mean more time with artists and high­er costs, which is not in line with fund­ing allowances for per diems, etc. When are fund­ing guide­lines going to catch up? Does this mean there will be few­er projects fund­ed? Where should we go to find the shortfall? 
  • dis­par­i­ty between actu­al costs for projects, espe­cial­ly with longer work peri­ods and/or livestream­ing, and no way to show this to funders.
  • we need more meet­ings with fun­ders in the room, “we all need to work on it togeth­er, all the parts of the whole”

“Our fes­ti­val is in the win­ter. So you had men­tioned peo­ple com­ing on bicy­cles, and walk­ing and I thought, ‘Oh, my I can’t pos­si­bly get my audi­ence do that’. But you know, we are pret­ty cen­tral and in Hal­i­fax, you could get peo­ple to con­sid­er walk­ing instead of dri­ving five blocks. And then, offer­ing an award for the inter­est­ing way of get­ting to the fes­ti­val, some­thing like some incen­tive, as part of your pro­mo­tion­al pack­age, to just to get the word out, basi­cal­ly, it’s real­ly just a way of get­ting the word out to peo­ple to con­sid­er the car­bon foot­print of just going to a con­cert. I think those are all the small steps we all have to take in our dai­ly life.”


“Live streams would be my suggestion,even though they’re also con­sum­ing all this ener­gy, but they have been immense­ly impor­tant, I think, for peo­ple like me, espe­cial­ly those who live in far­away places.  I’ve been able to par­tic­i­pate in events all over the globe because of this tech­nol­o­gy that COVID made possible.”


“We’re work­ing with liv­ing com­posers, when we do a lot of back and forth with the com­pos­er, as we’re pre­sent­ing as we’re get­ting ready to present the piece. We don’t have the bud­get to have the com­pos­er here. And you know, to your point about like mak­ing cross-Cana­da or inter­na­tion­al trips worth it, it’s a lot of work on top of a lot of mon­ey. It’s just not prac­ti­cal. But we’ve had com­posers from the UK, we’ve had com­posers up north, we’ve had from all over watch­ing their work being presented”


“It’s an acces­si­bil­i­ty thing. Not just peo­ple who might not be able to go phys­i­cal­ly to con­certs, but what about peo­ple who are liv­ing in places where they nev­er have access to a con­cert. Sud­den­ly, with orga­ni­za­tions all across Cana­da, you could have a con­cert of dif­fer­ent bits from dif­fer­ent places that would be pre­sent­ed some­where where there are no musi­cians, or maybe there’s just one ensem­ble, but they have a col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­er ensem­bles, and it allows us to be able to see things that are not phys­i­cal­ly present for us. But nobody says that we can’t orga­nize events where peo­ple do gath­er, because I think there’s the gath­er­ing part of con­certs that’s impor­tant. We can pro­vide snacks, and maybe there are some musi­cians in the space, and then maybe you might be able to see some­thing that’s hap­pen­ing across the coun­try and be involved with those peo­ple. But we just don’t think about these things yet.”


“Pret­ty hard bulls­eye to hit: be envi­ron­men­tal­ly con­scious, come in under bud­get, make mon­ey and have a healthy audience.”


“I get angry because it’s being tak­en away, and it’s my lifeblood to go and sit in a the­ater: that’s my hap­pi­est place in the world. And that is being tak­en away. And I see the future. It’s tak­en away, because of what my gen­er­a­tion, I sup­pose, has done to the world.”


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Date: March 29, 2023
Loca­tion: Car­leton Domin­ion-Chalmers Cen­tre, 355 Coop­er St, Ottawa, ON K2P 0G8
Co-pre­sen­ter: Research Cen­tre for Music, Sound and Soci­ety in Canada

For the Ottawa meet­ing, CNMN part­nered with Dr. Ellen Water­man at the Research Cen­tre for Music, Sound and Soci­ety in Cana­da (MSSC) in orga­niz­ing a two-day invi­ta­tion for Tanya Kalmanovitch and her Tar Sands Song­book. On March 28, MSSC host­ed Lis­ten­ing Café 2: Lis­ten­ing to the Cli­mate Emer­gency through The Tar Sands Song­book, where Tanya per­formed the song­book with pianist Andrew Boudreau, and there­after they, along with dra­maturg Katie Pearl, offered the audi­ence a chance to respond and ask questions.

This pow­er­ful per­for­mance informed the con­sul­ta­tion the next morn­ing, which gath­ered mem­bers of Ottawa’s diverse music com­mu­ni­ty. Once again, a mix of indi­vid­ual artists, edu­ca­tors, and musi­cians, as well as cul­tur­al work­ers from local and nation­al music and arts orga­ni­za­tions in Ottawa were present. These includ­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Impro­vis­ing & Exper­i­men­tal Music of Ottawa and Out­wards (IMOO), Jazz Fes­ti­vals Cana­da Net­work, Mul­ti­cul­tur­al Arts in Schools and Com­mu­ni­ties (MASC), the Nation­al Arts Cen­tre, Ottawa Cham­ber­fest, the Ottawa Jazz Fes­ti­val,Pro­peller Dance, Qu’ART the Ottawa Queer Arts Col­lec­tive, and SCALE-LeSAUT (Sec­toral Cli­mate Arts Lead­er­ship for the Emergency/Leadership sec­to­riel des arts sur l’urgence de la tran­si­tion écologique). We opened the cir­cle with ful­some pre­sen­ta­tions and a short descrip­tion of what sus­tain­abil­i­ty meant to each par­tic­i­pant and then moved towards a “pop­corn-style” dis­cus­sion of the com­plex issues guid­ed by the ques­tions we had sent ahead which includ­ed: How can music orga­ni­za­tions respond to the cli­mate emer­gency and its social impacts? How are peo­ple talk­ing about the cli­mate, emer­gency and music and sound? How are lan­guage and pol­i­cy shift­ing around ques­tions of sus­tain­abil­i­ty? What resources might ben­e­fit music and arts orga­ni­za­tions to engage with cli­mate change? And how can arts orga­ni­za­tions help to move con­ver­sa­tions forward?

Key points of dis­cus­sion included: 

  • Rural/Urban Divides: Rur­al Strate­gies and Insights
  • Fund­ing, Access, and Uni­ver­sal Basic Income
  • Lan­guage and Co-option: The Words We Use
  • Ped­a­gog­i­cal Strate­gies of Engage­ment: Grief, Empa­thy, Sur­vival and Love
  • Con­flict and Rela­tion­ships: Address­ing Polar­iza­tion and Bina­ry Thinking
  • Arts and Sys­temic Change: Dif­fer­ent Ways of Being and Doing
  • Com­mu­ni­ty Engaged Tools, Cli­mate and Arts
  • Cul­ti­vat­ing Rela­tion­ships with Each Oth­er and the Environment
  • Logis­tics of Tour­ing and Per­for­mance with a Cli­mate Consciousness
  • The Pow­er of the Local and Local Action

There were many peo­ple present for whom activism and cli­mate have been long-stand­ing issues, and so the con­ver­sa­tion ran deep and ben­e­fit­ed from that broad range of experience.

MSSC assis­tant Gale Franklin did a won­der­ful job of tran­scrib­ing and orga­niz­ing what the par­tic­i­pants shared under a num­ber of topics. 

Rural/Urban Divides: Rur­al Strate­gies and Insights

“I would sug­gest look­ing to lead­er­ship, from peo­ple in small­er mar­kets and small­er orgs, who are work­ing in extrac­tion, heavy towns, and to see how peo­ple in those orga­ni­za­tions, that can be peo­ple out­side of music, see how they’re think­ing about social rela­tion­ships between their board, their fundrais­ers, their donors, their audiences.”

“I’m not an urban prac­ti­tion­er any­more. But as peo­ple who work in an urban con­text, it is impor­tant to also remem­ber the rest of the coun­try, that has a remark­able amount of polit­i­cal pow­er, and a remark­able amount of voice. And in many cas­es it sounds dif­fer­ent than the urban con­text, and so I have nev­er been more aware of that than I have been in the last year.”

“I think we’re real­ly miss­ing mod­els of rur­al. I lis­ten to the CBC, and it’s all very urban, it’s peo­ple from cities talk­ing about city issues. And where are the rur­al voic­es? I mean we need to hear those voic­es. And how get them out there? Because the hyper urban envi­ron­men­tal expe­ri­ence is not some­thing that con­nects with every­body, and nor should it be.”

“If you take what you know as being in from the depth of canon­ic, Euro­pean art music cen­tral­ist prac­tice, you still know from that, what it is to work in mem­o­ry, what it is to work in his­to­ry, what is to work in empa­thy… But we know some­thing of each oth­er with­out need­ing to know lan­guage. So even in the depths of that field, we have capac­i­ty to be in rela­tion­ship. So any­way, I guess I was just think­ing like, who are we not hear­ing? Who do we not see when we say music? Whose music? Do we actu­al­ly mean? And whose music do we not mean? And as music orga­ni­za­tions, there’s some­thing very extrac­tive, I think, about the way that arts orga­ni­za­tions, peo­ple who are fund­ed by arts orga­ni­za­tions, talk about doing com­mu­ni­ty work, they talk about “our” part­ner­ships, “our” com­mu­ni­ties, “our” Indige­nous partners.”


Fund­ing, Access, and Uni­ver­sal Basic Income

“Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the cli­mate cri­sis does threat­en a lot of the work that has gone into mak­ing our world more acces­si­ble… [Our work] has an impact that are work­ing to shift­ing peo­ple’s focus and bring­ing atten­tion to acces­si­bil­i­ty issues, and acces­si­bil­i­ty lens to the cli­mate crisis.”

“I just want­ed to share an exam­ple of a project that I took part in which was released a data bag, song cycle with the no bor­ders, arts, group choir, and dur­ing COVID. Because peo­ple could­n’t meet in per­son, they were meet­ing online, so prac­tic­ing these choirs through Zoom over the inter­net. And what’s inter­est­ing about that is a new inclu­siv­i­ty where peo­ple could par­tic­i­pate, who, even if they’re local might not, who have mobil­i­ty issues, or were not able to oth­er­wise par­tic­i­pate were sud­den­ly includ­ed. I think it cre­at­ed a com­mu­ni­ty, a larg­er com­mu­ni­ty through that choir, extend­ed choir prac­tice over Zoom. That was, in many aspects free­ing and more inclu­sive. And that com­mu­ni­ty last­ed; those con­nec­tions that peo­ple made last­ed longer than the per­for­mance, in the end.”

I noticed we haven’t real­ly talked about mon­ey. And we’ve talked a lot about acces­si­bil­i­ty, rur­al, urban, and that all inter­sects with eco­nom­ics, too. And I mean, I think how do we, how do we speak to that?”

“I would love to be able to make a liv­ing with­out leav­ing home, with­out hav­ing to go on tour. And I think that would be the biggest drop to my car­bon emis­sions. And I think also for audi­ences, a lot of the “no one turned away for lack of funds” thing. Hav­ing small scale events and bet­ter part­ner­ing with local groups that are small­er, I think is real­ly, real­ly impor­tant. And not as a pater­nal ‘here you go.’”

“I am on the board of the Inde­pen­dent Media Arts Alliance of Cana­da, which is the Nation­al Orga­ni­za­tion of many art cen­ters. So, it’s a nation­al body, work­ing with media artists across the coun­try. And one of the biggest things that we’ve iden­ti­fied is uni­ver­sal basic income. And we actu­al­ly have a UBI com­mit­tee now that com­plete­ly works on that. We actu­al­ly have a nation­al artists com­mis­sion, where we have com­mis­sion­ers and artists across dis­ci­plines, but some across the coun­try tes­ti­fy for three sol­id days, in regards to the issue of uni­ver­sal basic income… But that, as a nation­al orga­ni­za­tion, is one of the key things that that we keep ham­mer­ing away at. And I have con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple at Cana­da Coun­cil who are in those strate­gic plan­ning depart­ments, so not the grantors. And we’ve been float­ing the idea that, rather than hav­ing peo­ple com­pete for grants for projects, you need to start chang­ing the sys­tem. And you need to actu­al­ly allow peo­ple who are artists and work­ing as artists to have an income that they can live on. So, one thing that we saw when we all got CERB… when I was direc­tor of a Media Arts Cen­ter in Ottawa, media artists are a whole bunch of very neu­ro­di­ver­gent peo­ple who have their aver­age income in Ottawa at $15,000 a year. These are peo­ple who live in cri­sis every sin­gle day, when they got $2,000 in the bank every month, their men­tal health was unbe­liev­able. Peo­ple actu­al­ly becom­ing cre­ative rather than hav­ing to  sur­vive. So, I think for all nation­al orga­ni­za­tions in the arts, this is a huge, impor­tant issue. While I’m sup­port­ing that in the wider world, too. I mean, our audi­ences, the peo­ple who go to shows, peo­ple don’t go to shows because they don’t have time. I mean, if peo­ple can be relaxed, and have a liv­ing that makes them more open to dif­fer­ent ideas, makes them more open to dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences. That’s sort of the biggest thing. So, I think you know, as a nation­al orga­ni­za­tion from strike a com­mit­tee, con­nect with the oth­er nation­al orga­ni­za­tions, orga­ni­za­tions, and then to get a crit­i­cal mass.”

“I was real­ly glad to hear the con­ver­sa­tions [around sus­tain­abil­i­ty]  in Cana­da Coun­cil is hap­pen­ing. And some­thing we can do is [rec­og­nize] that we are all just peo­ple. And these orga­ni­za­tions that some­times seem like they’re big orga­ni­za­tions are still just peo­ple. And the more we can talk to peo­ple, the more like­li­hood there is of change, right? Because fund­ing is a huge, huge thing. And it’s bot­tomed out. And I know a lot of the fund­ing that comes to a lot of board arts orga­ni­za­tions is, for exam­ple, tourism based. And that’s bru­tal, but it’s a real­i­ty that we have to deal with. So, it may be if the fund­ing and that’s com­mer­cial fund­ing, and if that could be actu­al­ly put into more just like into Cana­da Coun­cil, or more fun­neled in ways where you don’t have to pro­duce more num­bers, big­ger num­bers in growth, as orga­ni­za­tions, that would be fan­tas­tic. That would change a lot of things.”


Lan­guage and Co-option: The Words We Use 

“Because I also feel like mov­ing away from the word sus­tain­able or sus­tain­abil­i­ty, it has so many dif­fer­ent appli­ca­tions, and it can be so eas­i­ly con­strued, you know, finan­cial sus­tain­abil­i­ty. I think I have two main issues with that word. One is that it’s just too broad and can be mis­in­ter­pret­ed or it can be inter­pret­ed in so many dif­fer­ent ways that it is not use­ful. And sec­ond­ly, it has this impli­ca­tion of like things stay­ing the same, which is also real­ly prob­lem­at­ic. I love the word … regen­er­ate, regen­er­a­tive, or regen­er­a­tion, which is feel­ing for me per­son­al­ly, is feel­ing like much more. Like some­body else also men­tioned.… stew­ard­ship, regen­er­a­tion, like these are the val­ues that I want to move for­ward with. And I think, to me, regen­er­a­tion speaks about heal­ing, but heal­ing the plan­et, about heal­ing peo­ple. And so, so I real­ly liked that language.” 

“To me, regen­er­a­tion is about rec­og­niz­ing that [cre­at­ing a sense of belong­ing] looks dif­fer­ent in dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties. And I think that one of our most impor­tant chal­lenges, as artists and as arts orga­ni­za­tions, is to find ways to cre­ate a sense of belong­ing for dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties, and that’s going to again, look very dif­fer­ent for dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties, but to cre­ate that sense of belong­ing in a a regen­er­a­tive future, or regen­er­a­tive futures in the plur­al. And, you know, going in that direc­tion, as opposed to the sort of dual­ism that often sur­rounds this issue, so that we’re actu­al­ly cre­at­ing ener­gy, rather than hav­ing peo­ple shut down.” 

“As I look around the world, you know, my trans friends, whose life expectan­cy in Cana­da is 32 years, are real­ly at a point where sus­tain­abil­i­ty does­n’t cut it any­more, as demon­strat­ed last night at the Ottawa school board meet­ing around that, I mean, we’re right back.”

“I want­ed to offer that what­ev­er word you choose, we will find a way to turn it into some­thing that is pal­lid and mean­ing­less. So, what to do about that is to ask our­selves about what are the habits of think­ing, and the habits of relat­ing and the habits of action, that allow us to just sort of pawn off the things we should be doing dif­fer­ent­ly on a word.” 

“Words get co-opt­ed … and where it’s get­ting words to change mean­ing and I think what we real­ly have to hold on to is the mean­ing that we have and the way that we inter­act with those words. I mean, you look at words like “woke” and what has hap­pened in the last num­ber of years. And what it means now to most peo­ple, not all of us, is very dif­fer­ent from what it meant a few just even a few years ago. And so, I mean, I think the ques­tion of the word­ing is impor­tant, but I think part of it is we have to be super clear about what it means to us.” 

“Now my feel­ing about regen­er­a­tive though the idea of regen­er­a­tion is this, it sug­gests that it’s putting for­ward some­thing that was already was reached. That’s the re- argu­ment. Which is, you know, like the whole notion of the cli­mate emer­gency, like it’s an emer­gency for first world colo­nial per­spec­tive, but for many Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, it’s just a con­tin­u­a­tion of some­thing that’s been happening.”

“But I think the “emer­gency” thing, to me links back to that sort of more of a “first world” def­i­n­i­tion. It’s not as inclu­sive. For my own self, the chal­lenge has been to try and ques­tion my pat­terns of dom­i­nant think­ing. And it’s about iden­ti­fy­ing what those are, like, just in a, like an aware­ness, try­ing to find out what are those things? I don’t have sort of solu­tions for going for­ward, because I’m still in that find­ing out phase.” 

“The dis­cus­sion around emer­gency and its prob­lem­at­ics, so that word is used to draw atten­tion to the ways in which epis­te­mol­o­gy, knowl­edges around cri­sis are used to jus­ti­fy all kinds of acts of crim­i­nal­i­ty. So, because it’s an “emer­gency,” we have to cut down these trees, right? Yeah, because it’s an emer­gency. This needs to hap­pen so that the actors and actions tak­en in a space of cri­sis, it’s often used as cov­er. But I think we could just as wise­ly flip that. And think about using a space of cri­sis as a site that’s gen­er­a­tive of wisdom.”

“Think­ing about lan­guage, I wrote down here, there’s lan­guage that feels good. And there’s lan­guage that just right. And then, per­son­al­ly, I’ve been read­ing a lot about these things, and talk­ing to peo­ple and stuff. And my own think­ing is a term that makes more sense to me now is sur­viv­abil­i­ty, which is beyond one type of resilience. But, but that’s per­son­al, you know, I dip into the Doomist world, because it’s so dis­cour­ag­ing to look at the facts. But it feels more com­fort­able to be in a word or a con­cept that feels right, that feels like where we’re at where we’re real­ly at. So, I put a spec­trum and I said, you know, there’s mit­i­ga­tion to a lot of peo­ple are work­ing on now they’re try­ing to reduce the foot­print in any effort is worth­while, we need to slow down the dam­age. And then there’s adapt­abil­i­ty, that’s there are inevitable changes that are com­ing, we have to adapt, we have to antic­i­pate cli­mate, refugee waves, all those things. But real­ly, what’s going to hap­pen, unfor­tu­nate­ly, is that we will get into a peri­od where only cer­tain of our species will sur­vive what’s com­ing. And that’s not very com­fort­able thing to think about. And there’s not a lot you can do about it. Because you want to be work­ing on mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion. And then this regen­er­a­tion, which is a more hope­ful space, but I think it’s going to come after this peri­od of sur­viv­abil­i­ty. Inevitably, at least unless things change dra­mat­i­cal­ly, that’s where we’re going. All of us all our col­lec­tive behav­ior. So how does that help art? Well, maybe it does­n’t. But it helps me, because it helps me to fig­ure out the lan­guage that makes sense in wher­ev­er I put my ener­gies. So, I think we all have to think through what where we’re at and what con­stant the words and so forth. But what do they mean? How do they feel to where we want put our energy?”


Ped­a­gog­i­cal Strate­gies of Engage­ment: Grief, Empa­thy, Sur­vival and Love

“I think that if you want some­one to pro­tect some­thing, you need to help them love it. What we do is, we com­bine poet­ry, poet­ic prose and music, and high­light what is very inter­est­ing about musi­cal­ly, we name birds, we name lichens, we do all those kinds of things and the work is real­ly an expec­ta­tion. Go and look at nature, go and find your own rela­tion­ship to spend time, stretch time. You know, don’t just walk past the riv­er, down to the edge, and start pick­ing out, you know, what’s there, try to under­stand it. And I think that that’s the key to help­ing peo­ple find the rela­tion­ship to nature.”

“I feel that dur­ing since the pan­dem­ic, peo­ple don’t care, indi­vid­ual peo­ple are in sur­vival mode. I think peo­ple’s empa­thy has just run out because peo­ple are on this sur­vival­ist mode. They have eco grief. Teach­ing peo­ple how to love and how to take time, it’s a real challenge.”

“Through my work, both as a com­pos­er and per­form­ing artist and themes that I’ve been exper­i­ment­ing with are these themes of belong­ing and using music as a reflec­tive tool. And so, as some­one who goes into schools and com­mu­ni­ties, I feel like my part of my role is being a space hold­er, for peo­ple to ask these valu­able ques­tions. And so, I’m real­ly excit­ed to be here to talk about what is it look like for us to take valu­able steps for­ward and giv­ing peo­ple tools to say, what does sus­tain­abil­i­ty look like in our com­mu­ni­ties? How do we move for­ward not just to talk about it, but to real­ly con­crete­ly have these tan­gi­ble steps of engag­ing with com­mu­ni­ty in this way.”

“[We have] this piece … And it’s about the Rideau Riv­er, what’s in the riv­er, and what you can observe, how you relate to it, from the mus­sels that have been torn apart by the rac­coons to the graf­fi­ti on the cement around them. And before our con­cert, we did a lot of out­reach to groups who, not just the music com­mu­ni­ty, but also to peo­ple who are in canoe clubs and riv­er and water pro­tec­tion insti­tu­tions and things like that, the munic­i­pal coun­cilors, on all the wards along the riv­er. And we end­ed up with an audi­ence which con­tained all kinds of peo­ple I’d nev­er seen before at a con­cert. And I thought, this is inter­est­ing, these guys do not look like a typ­i­cal audi­ence, I think we have some suc­cess in bring­ing peo­ple in, to hear some­thing dif­fer­ent. And to engage with the ideas in, in the music and in the poet­ry… And so, there’s room for reach­ing people.”

“You said some­thing right at the begin­ning that has been res­onat­ing with me the whole time: walk the land and pay atten­tion to the ordinary.”


Con­flict and Rela­tion­ships: Address­ing Polar­iza­tion and Bina­ry Thinking

“I’m inter­est­ed in how is it that we live today? And how do we stand in sight of destruc­tion and pos­si­bil­i­ty? In terms of the idea of polit­i­cal polar­iza­tion, for what­ev­er moment we find our­selves its roots are con­tin­u­ous and deep. This is not some­thing that just hap­pened. It nev­er went away. And so also, I think solu­tions, lessons for sur­vival and resis­tance are also deep and con­tin­u­ous and every­where around us. I hate when peo­ple just say like, let’s just be solu­tions focused, because I’m like, ‘No, we real­ly need to talk about the prob­lem for a minute.’ But I do like the ques­tion of how it is that we stand both inside of dis­trac­tion and possibilities.”

“Just want­ed to offer that there’s a a ten­sion in the activist move­ment, of know­ing, absolute­ly, with­out a doubt, who’s side you are on, and the impor­tance of that clar­i­ty, that moral clar­i­ty against what it takes to dis­man­tle the post-truth, polar­iza­tion dis­course, of under­stand­ing our inter­de­pen­dence. So, I think in this inter­view­er yes­ter­day asked me, will I do my piece along the rail­way, or if I want to do it and like fes­ti­vals and con­cert halls. I did­n’t so much design it to be done in insti­tu­tion­al­ized art pro­duc­ing spaces, but I want­ed to do it in spaces where peo­ple’s lived expe­ri­ence more direct­ly maps onto the com­plex­i­ties that I feel in my own life. So that meant along pipeline, the truck rail routes that car­ry Alber­ta Oil into the glob­al mar­ket. And he was like, ‘well, what are you going to do with this piece, and what if there’s some guy out there with  steel toed boots, he’s dri­ven his giant truck up and like, he’s going to tell you…’ And I’m like, well, those guys are my cousins, and my broth­ers and my uncles. And they are yours, too. Which seemed, you know, a pre­pos­ter­ous thing to say to some­body, right? But you can unlock it by under­stand­ing that we are already all in this, and we are already relat­ed. And our fates are always dynam­i­cal­ly inter­linked, whether or not they can see it, it could just be that they’re just not ready for us, that’s what I like to think: that you’re just not ready for me. The oth­er thing I was think­ing about in terms of the strug­gles for the arts, and arts orga­ni­za­tions, they are dom­i­nat­ed by struc­tures of fund­ing and struc­tures of sup­port that are dynam­i­cal­ly and direct­ly linked to the very same struc­tures that are dis­man­tling our right to access to the land to clear water to a future, whole earth. And they’re in inti­mate rela­tion­ships with fos­sil fuel indus­tries, extrac­tion industries.”

“As I’m lis­ten­ing, the thing that res­onates is how impor­tant it is that we all actu­al­ly are okay with our­selves because it’s so hard to live with integri­ty. You would dis­man­tle the entire thing and just start from scratch, but we can’t real­ly do that. If we can just be open to talk­ing about it and real­ize like [a par­tic­i­pant] was say­ing, I have Repub­li­can peo­ple in my fam­i­ly and it’s okay! It is impor­tant to be okay with every­body and be okay with your­self and, and to do your best with­in that capacity.”

“There are just so many points of view, that it’s real­ly hard to sort it all out and decide what’s right. And even myself as an indi­vid­ual, I need a big­ger com­put­er, because I’m work­ing on more projects. I’ve been out to Banff for res­i­den­cies of where the facil­i­ties are spon­sored, the signs are up on the wall, by an oil orga­ni­za­tion. So, it’s just a very stress­ful time to be in and work through all these things. So, it’s real­ly good to have these con­ver­sa­tions and try to sort things out.”

“What I gath­er is that there’s a lot of irony. We have to com­ply with these sys­tems in order to do the work that some­times goes against the grain. Take an exam­ple just from with­in [a dance orga­ni­za­tion], we focus on plain lan­guage to make either audio descrip­tion or to make work or any­thing that we put out a bit more acces­si­ble to folks who are neu­ro­di­ver­gent, who don’t per­ceive things the same way that every­body else would. And yet, in order to achieve the fund­ing to make that hap­pen, we have to write this whole grant appli­ca­tion, which is all this elab­o­rate lan­guage that has noth­ing to do with the actu­al end result. So that’s just one irony. If I can just talk about the acces­si­bil­i­ty of the pan­dem­ic, it was great, we were able to reach a lot more peo­ple while not hav­ing a foot­print our­selves, but then that’s based on the assump­tion that peo­ple have access to the tech­nol­o­gy in order for these things to hap­pen. So, I think that action response to bias is to call out the irony, not to be afraid to say, ‘Hey, here’s this dichoto­my.’ And maybe we do put on a fes­ti­val and say, ‘guess what, this is the fes­ti­val and we are the prob­lem.’ I think it’d be quite chal­leng­ing to see and to be con­front­ed with that as an audi­ence mem­ber, but also as local com­mu­ni­ties, and yet to see what are the pos­i­tive things that can emerge from the urgency?”


Arts and Sys­temic Change: Dif­fer­ent Ways of Being and Doing

“I strong­ly feel noth­ing will change, unless we change the sys­tem. And I think the arts com­mu­ni­ty is an incred­i­ble exam­ple of how this sys­tem can be dif­fer­ent. Because I mean, cor­rect me if I’m wrong, I’m look­ing around the room, none of us are here to become rich, to amass assets, to con­trol sup­ply chains, and things like that. Our mode of liv­ing is already dif­fer­ent from the sys­tem and out­side of the sys­tem, artists gen­er­al­ly have been mar­gin­al­ized as a group and as a demo­graph­ic for eons. So, we actu­al­ly have an incred­i­ble amount of knowl­edge that we can bring to sys­tem change. And I think that it is, requires artists as a crit­i­cal mass to stand up and say, we are liv­ing a dif­fer­ent sys­tem. So t the arts have played a huge role in the fight against AIDS, arts have played a huge role in civ­il rights. We actu­al­ly know how to mobi­lize peo­ple, and we know how to work on mind shift with­in the gen­er­al pub­lic. So, I think we have huge things to bring to this to this bat­tle that is ahead of us.”

“I think that music or the arts can help peo­ple to rec­og­nize that it is that big an issue. And it’s real­ly hard for peo­ple to rec­og­nize that their what they think is nor­mal is actu­al­ly a thing, that there are dif­fer­ent ways of look­ing at the world. And I real­ly believe that chal­leng­ing our West­ern colo­nial per­cep­tions is what’s required to affect change. I believe that decol­o­niz­ing and look­ing at the envi­ron­ment are linked. I liked the words about lis­ten­ing and change. It’s about lis­ten­ing, lis­ten­ing differently.”

“Alter­na­tive musi­cians present dif­fer­ent mod­els of being just from the fact that we’re not in the pop­u­lar cul­tur­al world. Because pop­u­lar cul­ture is dri­ven through with cap­i­tal­ist mes­sag­ing. And, you know, like, if we can cre­ate a space and a com­mu­ni­ty, as musi­cians, also with audi­ences, with peo­ple, and do it in a way that, that presents dif­fer­ent ways of being, I think that’s the best thing we can pos­si­bly do. It it’s hard to find space to be dif­fer­ent. And it’s always been that way… How do we go about carv­ing spaces and invit­ing peo­ple into them that are health­i­er than what we’ve got, even if they’re imper­fect? Because it’s real­ly, real­ly hard to live an intact life of integri­ty. And in our sys­tem, some would say impossible.”

“It would be very cool if the arts took the lead in admit­ting exact­ly what their car­bon foot­print was, you know, and hold it up against oth­er orga­ni­za­tions. Who is going to be the first Arts Board fes­ti­val to say, we unnec­es­sar­i­ly flew in 20 peo­ple because that’s how we work is?”

“One of the one of the thought exper­i­ments that I’ve done in class, it’s been real­ly use­ful for peo­ple is imag­in­ing that the price of oil goes up to $100 a liter, right. And so, it’s actu­al­ly no longer fea­si­ble not just to tour but it’s actu­al­ly not fea­si­ble to get your reeds from Ama­zon. Right. None of this is afford­able. None of this is acces­si­ble and reach­able. So how then do we music? Right. So then to under­stand, for exam­ple, that we must divest of our cap­i­tal­is­tic colo­nial­ist prac­tices, we must under­stand, for exam­ple, that we don’t know ani­mals and plants as musi­cians and friends. I had a stu­dent in my class who actu­al­ly was so blown away by this. He grew up in New Jer­sey, Kore­an immi­grant fam­i­ly, and he’s clar­inetist. And he went on to try to order a bam­boo plant on Ama­zon and tried to grow his own cane. He did not know how long it takes for the plant to mature. He has no knowl­edge, this is not part of his expe­ri­ence. And he thought he could have it done as a final project for the class by the semes­ter. And it said he end­ed up doc­u­ment­ing the process and his process of dis­cov­er­ing what he did­n’t know but dis­cov­er­ing the admis­sion of what he does­n’t know, was his rela­tion­ship to the plant his rela­tion­ship to the cane, his rela­tion­ship to his iden­ti­ty to what he was study­ing as musi­cian, and was in the in the effect… But I think it was pret­ty lib­er­a­to­ry because no longer did he have to accept that his val­ue as a musi­cian came from a sys­tem that was deter­mined to destroy him. Right? So, this might mean you do things like maybe we make instru­ments out of like dis­card­ed, like paper tow­el tubes, or maybe we just sing togeth­er, maybe we have to think much more cre­ative­ly, and much more empath­i­cal­ly about who it is we wish to make music with.”


Com­mu­ni­ty Engaged Tools, Cli­mate and Arts

“I was going to bring up Cre­ative Green Tools … And it is inter­est­ing, because it’s not a per­fect tool, but it’s some­thing. And it’s inter­est­ing, because I now work in a rur­al con­text, and when I look at the ques­tions, a lot of it does­n’t apply to us, in so many ways. Iit’s real­ly meant for an urban con­text around fes­ti­vals and insti­tu­tions. I think it’s only a mat­ter of time before it’s adopt­ed by quite a few of the Arts Coun­cils, so, we may all have to famil­iar­ize our­selves with it soon. And, you know, again, it may not be a per­fect tool, but it’s tak­ing a step. But we’ve start­ed to look for oth­er tools and they may not be with­in the arts. For instance, one of the things that we’re most involved with is the Thomp­son Okana­gan Tourism Asso­ci­a­tion’s Bios­phere Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Com­mit­ment, which is, again, not a per­fect tool, but it’s a way for us to actu­al­ly access some real­ly valu­able capac­i­ty build­ing and train­ing to move us for­ward. And that’s through a tourism orga­ni­za­tion, it’s not through an arts orga­ni­za­tion. And so, some oth­er net­works are maybe a lit­tle fur­ther along than we are, and I think we need not be shy about reach­ing out or look­ing for those things that are adja­cent or that speak to us but aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly ful­ly tai­lored to us.”

“In Ima­go: King of Chloro­phyll, I was a musi­cian in the ensem­ble, but the piece took place out­side. And it was this inter­est­ing inter­sect between music and cli­mate. The com­pos­er is an arborist, but also a com­pos­er and musi­cian. And so, we were there, but then there’s the Out­door School and the kids were there with their machetes, help­ing to clear the area. And then as a musi­cian, I was there look­ing at Kim, who is in the trees doing this arbor informed dance. But it was a real­ly inter­est­ing inter­sec­tion, because before the audi­ence mem­bers came to see the piece, they got to meet the local farm­ers and to talk about what we grow, this and how we grow it. And before they expe­ri­enced the art piece, and I feel like there was an inter­sect of many dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties. And for me, as an artist, that was an exam­ple of mov­ing for­ward and talk­ing about the land that we’re on, and in real­ly beau­ti­ful ways.”


Cul­ti­vat­ing Rela­tion­ships with Each Oth­er and the Environment

“And just offer one lit­tle tid­bit, which is that more lives are saved in nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, and nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, cli­mate, or what­ev­er, more lives are saved by ordi­nary peo­ple than by first respon­ders or by gov­ern­ment poli­cies. So, it’s those rela­tion­ships that save us to one anoth­er. And those rela­tion­ships are what we should iden­ti­fy and defend.”

“I’m hear­ing so much that’s just about humans. It’s not about the arts. And I’m not extreme­ly sur­prised by that, but at the same time, it’s an inter­est­ing sit­u­a­tion that this group of peo­ple comes togeth­er based on their artis­tic prac­tice or their rela­tion­ship to an artis­tic pur­pose and ends up dis­cussing human­i­ty and crises or for lack of a bet­ter word, emerg­ing issues that we’re see­ing, from very dif­fer­ent perspectives.”


Logis­tics of Tour­ing and Per­for­mance with a Cli­mate Consciousness

“I thought about that, as a musi­cian, when hon­est­ly, I am on a grant fund­ed tour, going from a gig that maybe was­n’t all that well pub­li­cized, and 15 peo­ple show up. The real­i­ty is this is such a waste of resource and foot­print, but the fact is that in what we’re doing, it’s real­ly impor­tant to bring peo­ple togeth­er. So, I still think there’s sort of via­bil­i­ty with­in that.”

“One of the oth­er things that I was think­ing about with in terms of jazz fes­ti­vals in Cana­da, that is actu­al­ly a a cool thing, is we have con­scious­ly tried to work out rout­ing. When some­body’s offered these gigs, they’re impor­tant for peo­ple’s careers. And if you do have that crazy tour­ing, that rout­ing, you’ll take it, so it is our respon­si­bil­i­ty to try go, ‘Hey, Cal­gary, do you mind if we actu­al­ly just switch dates, like lit­tle things like that, to make this more viable for everyone?’” 

“It’s the impos­si­bil­i­ty of a sit­u­a­tion that we’re in where we’re hav­ing to be two worlds. So, like you say, you have to fly to do the gig because you need the gig. You fly to a con­fer­ence because you need com­mit­ted com­mu­ni­ca­tion, you need face to face inter­ac­tion. You need to pre­pare con­ver­sa­tion. So, as we’re con­stant­ly trapped in these sort of like cycles of say­ing, “Am I doing the right thing? Is this okay?” And I think what I’m laugh­ing at is sort of the Kaf­ka-esque sort of absur­di­ty of this moment where we’re try­ing to moral­ly rea­son with our­selves inside a sys­tem that would just be hap­pi­er to keep us spin­ning around.”

“My point is, pick your bat­tles. There are art forms that are extreme­ly pow­er­ful. They are the things that can trans­form peo­ple’s psy­che, and empa­thy and all that. So, I think we have to do every­thing we can to mit­i­gate that to con­tin­ue our work, because what we need to do is tran­si­tion out of this mad sys­tem that we live in. And it’s not going to be easy. In fact, it’s prob­a­bly impos­si­ble. But we are going to have to move forward.”

“You know who the biggest foot­print of big music fes­ti­vals is? Peo­ple com­ing to the music fes­ti­vals, not the peo­ple per­form­ing. It’s every­body trav­el­ing to the festival.”

“To me, this still comes back, and I total­ly agree with you about this irony of the cycle, to the idea of what suc­cess is. The word suc­cess, of course, has many issues too. But we hear that you have to go to Mon­tre­al, why do you have to go to Mon­tre­al? Because the sys­tem says that, that’s some­thing that means that you “made it.” And in a sys­tem where you are hav­ing to make it to get the fund­ing, you have to go to the fes­ti­val and to go to the fes­ti­val, you have to have the fund­ing. And for the fes­ti­val to present you, you have to have an audi­ence base. And for the audi­ence base to be cre­at­ed, you have to have fund­ing. And it’s this con­stant cycle. So to me, it’s about nar­ra­tives, and if a dif­fer­ent sto­ry is told, and you can relate to that sto­ry, it val­i­dates some­thing for you as an indi­vid­ual, it val­i­dates some­thing that’s com­mu­ni­ty. And even hear­ing these ideas of 13 peo­ple show­ing up to a con­cert, why is that a prob­lem? It does­n’t have to be a prob­lem. There is a nar­ra­tive around it for both the artist who’s pre­sent­ing and also for the audi­ence mem­ber who shows up and thinks, why am I here, if there are only 13 people?”


The Pow­er of the Local and Local Action

“To answer your ques­tion, what can CNMN and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions do, last week in Flori­da there was a Parks Cana­da per­son who was there because of ecol­o­gy, and he said, “we real­ly need to live in the local.” You know, it just seems like an obvi­ous thing, right? So, I think we need an Ottawa coun­cil, right, even though I worked at the Cana­da Coun­cil for a long time. So, I think we should con­tin­ue these con­ver­sa­tions here in one way or anoth­er, and bring more peo­ple in cir­cles, tell sto­ries. Yes, good sto­ries. And but also share tools. Now there are some things that how these things work, bring some­body in from Green Tools here, here in Ottawa we care. We want to move things for­ward. We are aware of the fact and it makes me feel good just to think that we would work togeth­er, and we don’t have to do it but I think we all want to, I think we just don’t know how, and how is not hard.”

“I real­ly love this, and I need this more. Because I do feel that on a day-to-day basis, I’m in a bit of a sur­viv­abil­i­ty mode like [only focus­ing on] eco­nom­ic sus­tain­abil­i­ty. That’s very much what our board is talk­ing about much more than cli­mate, you know, or any of the oth­er issues, right. So, the more that we do things like this, the more I’ll walk away with that going direct­ly to back to the office, and it’s on the top of my mind, right, and we can act.”

Brandon Meeting

Date: April 21, 2023
Loca­tion: Queen Eliz­a­beth II Music Build­ing, Bran­don, MB R7B 1L6
Co-pre­sen­ter: Eck­hardt-Gram­maté Nation­al Music Competition

The meet­ing in Bran­don was opened with a land acknowl­edge­ment by the E‑Gré com­pe­ti­tion direc­tor Megu­mi Masa­ki, who is also a CNMN board mem­ber. This was again fol­lowed by a short pre­sen­ta­tion of the Sus­tain­able Futures project and upcom­ing nation­al gath­er­ing by CNMN ED Ter­ri Hron. She again referred to  SCALE/LeSaut’s three modes of engage­ment and gave a short descrip­tion of the pre­vi­ous two events. There­after, we encour­aged par­tic­i­pants in the cir­cle to intro­duce them­selves and give us their thoughts about how sus­tain­abil­i­ty inter­sects with their artis­tic prac­tice and life. 

Although many of the par­tic­i­pants at this meet­ing were there as com­peti­tors or col­lab­o­rat­ing artists, we were touched by how gen­er­ous they were in their respons­es, and it was spe­cial to have so many per­spec­tives from younger artists at the begin­ning of their careers. Top­ics that came up included:

  • the hid­den car­bon foot­print of online activ­i­ties and sites.
  • the inten­si­ty of the cli­mate emer­gency for younger people
  • insuf­fi­cient fund­ing for sus­tain­abil­i­ty mea­sure on top of every­thing else–where is the bud­get going to come from
  • life choic­es and actions are as/more impor­tant than art choices
  • most sus­tain­abil­i­ty mea­sures and poli­cies are designed for urban rather than rur­al realities
  • have we for­got­ten all the lessons learned from the COVID slowdown?
  • should ear­ly career artists be expect­ed to turn down gigs that require trav­el, when they are just try­ing to build their careers? What is fair in this sense?
  • local is what is avail­able. Not every­thing needs to hap­pen everywhere. 
  • we need to change our mind­set and val­ues around local tal­ent and audi­ence numbers

“When we talk about sus­tain­abil­i­ty, and in rela­tion to the envi­ron­ment, par­tic­u­lar­ly, yes, we are feel­ing the force field of our gov­ern­ment agen­cies that fund us, and they are pro­duc­ing ques­tions like, Okay, can you tell us about your envi­ron­men­tal audit. And so we’ve done a few things inter­nal­ly as an orga­ni­za­tion. And sur­pris­ing­ly, I did­n’t even think or I did­n’t under­stand that web­sites even have a envi­ron­men­tal foot­print. And that’s when I real­ly start­ed to take action, because I saw how, in a sense, it was deemed a very dirty site, and not from the con­tent, but just from the point of view that it has an impact.”

“When you hear the youth talk about the envi­ron­men­tal impact on their lives, and what they feel for the future, that’s when you real­ly move to do some­thing, and see­ing it expressed through their art and shared pub­licly means that, if I can’t do enough for myself, I need to do some­thing so that there is a future for these young people.”

“When I hear the word sus­tain­able, every arts work­er just shriv­els, because there is not enough fund­ing for us to be to con­tin­ue on that jour­ney. And as we men­tor young peo­ple into these roles are some­thing has to shift, the ener­gy has to shift, we have to work dif­fer­ent­ly, we have to think dif­fer­ent­ly. And, this is real­ly becom­ing a psy­cho­log­i­cal bur­den, because I’m hav­ing to sup­port peo­ple, but also rec­og­niz­ing the mon­ey is dimin­ish­ing, any way that we can advo­cate for the artis­tic space”

“In terms of sus­tain­abil­i­ty, the first thing that comes to mind for me is, I grew up on an organ­ic farm where my dad was very involved with lots of dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tions and projects about like, farm sus­tain­abil­i­ty, and how to keep those going while giv­ing back to the land so that we’re not deplet­ing from it. But also, mak­ing life choic­es and var­i­ous oth­er things. So I come at it pret­ty much from that per­spec­tive, of hav­ing that per­son­al con­nec­tion of being out in the wide open being on the land, tak­ing care of the ani­mals and the crops and things. So in terms of how that inter­sects with, with music, and with what I do on that side, there’s cer­tain­ly there has­n’t been a lot of inter­sec­tion for me just yet. How­ev­er, there are many things that we can do more mov­ing for­ward and I’m curi­ous to explore more of those things, but I just don’t have a lot of con­nec­tion again.”

“Some­thing that’s been at the top of the mind late­ly, both in terms of artis­tic sus­tain­abil­i­ty and envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­i­ty is because I grew up in a rur­al area. And I’ve moved and lived in a lot of the Cana­da cities, I’ve just real­ized that a lot of the solu­tions that make sense in the GTA, or in oth­er cities are not always avail­able in rur­al Saskatchewan, and just try­ing to fig­ure out how we can include the entire coun­try in these con­ver­sa­tions, and not just think of what peo­ple in Toron­to can do to help, I think it’s won­der­ful, this con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen­ing here.”

“As a cre­ator, as far as sus­tain­abil­i­ty, one thing I think about quite a bit seems to be pret­ty tied to com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment. And because I’m a musi­cian, the idea of music has some sort of com­mu­nica­tive medi­um. So I am think­ing about what sort of infor­ma­tion music is poten­tial­ly actu­al­ly good at con­vey­ing and what is and what is rel­e­vant with­in that.”

“I think those of us who aren’t musi­cians or artists will be lost. Because there’s noth­ing bet­ter than going to a con­cert or hear­ing musi­cians, look­ing at art and it changes your per­spec­tive, tends to give you hope, involves an aes­thet­ic sense and so very impor­tant to me.”

“I was think­ing, okay, when the snow is gone, I’m going to pick up the garbage. Some­times I walk with my grand­kids, I’ll take a garbage bag and just pick up the garbage. It’s real­ly hard to fig­ure out what to do. But I’m think­ing okay, that’s one thing I can do.”

“For me right now, there’s mas­sive chaos in my head. When I think that I know what I’m doing and con­tribut­ing to doing some­thing pos­i­tive. I turn the cor­ner and face more ques­tions and more anx­i­ety and even more ques­tions. I’m find­ing that the more I do, the more I’m con­fused. And that could part­ly also be the rela­tion­ship that I have with the land.”

Julie’s Bicy­cle “have cre­at­ed these won­der­ful tools to mea­sure your, your foot­print. And when I use those tools, I feel very anx­ious, because I can see how much I use and how large of a foot­print I am. And the way that I do bal­ance it. And how I bal­anced it, is to cre­ate projects that raise aware­ness of cli­mate change and use the pow­er and the emo­tion­al pow­er of music and art to soni­fy and to cre­ate a con­nec­tion for lis­ten­ers and per­form­ers on the sci­en­tif­ic data that has been cre­at­ed on cli­mate cri­sis. So that’s one way that I’ve been able to process it personally.”

“I think we all had a lot of time to think about sus­tain­abil­i­ty, both artis­ti­cal­ly and envi­ron­men­tal­ly because of COVID. And there are some very pos­i­tive things to take away from that. I had a con­ver­sa­tion with some artists just yes­ter­day. We were talk­ing about how the world stopped and now it’s start­ed again, but it’s like 1000 times ramped up. And I’m won­der­ing if this is not the time for these kinds of con­ver­sa­tions, to have learned that the envi­ron­ment had a chance to heal for the two years that every­body was­n’t fly­ing around and every­body was­n’t engag­ing in all sorts of activ­i­ties. And now I’m expe­ri­enc­ing this and I’m hear­ing this from col­leagues that it’s so amped up now that we are going to do all of the dam­age again, and do it even worse, because we are also anx­ious to get back into work.”

“When is it good to say no, it’s one thing that I learned way too late. As young artists, we tend to say yes to every­thing because we’re just so grate­ful when that oppor­tu­ni­ty hap­pens. But one thing to learn, per­haps is what is the most valu­able for you? What has the great­est impact on your career?”

“pre­sen­ters and per­form­ers need to real­ly think about whether they need to do this con­cert there? Are there oth­er ways that their art can be dis­sem­i­nat­ed? Can that be sup­port­ed appro­pri­ate­ly? By arts orga­ni­za­tions? I know at the uni­ver­si­ties, this has been a huge issue. Because tra­di­tion­al­ly, inter­na­tion­al events are more high­ly regard­ed than local events. But should they be? You could make the case that local com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment is just as valu­able. And that maybe we should­n’t be always look­ing at inter­na­tion­al activ­i­ties and hype as being a high pro­file activ­i­ty. The same thing goes I think, when we look at whether sym­phonies need to bring in soloists from far away, when there are per­fect­ly capa­ble soloists local­ly, do opera com­pa­nies need to bring in who they think are the best in the world. And I think that we need to sort of change our mind­set about the per­for­mance, the whole scene of per­for­mance, we’re in a big country.”

“The ques­tion [of focus­ing on local] is for the priv­i­lege of larg­er cities where there are mul­ti­ple resources, what about the rest of us? How do the rest of us sus­tain artis­tic prac­tice with just being focused local­ly, is some­thing I haven’t quite fig­ured out. I’d love to have that conversation.”

“I did­n’t know what to expect from this meet­ing here today. Cer­tain­ly not this. Chaos is a very good word. Anx­i­ety is a great word. Fund­ing is a great word. Local is a great word.”

“I find that’s a par­tic­u­lar­ly sticky issue, espe­cial­ly for peo­ple right at the begin­ning of their careers. I dream to one day be in a place in my career, where I can turn down that gig. But as you’re just try­ing to start out, you have to, just from a finan­cial stand­point, there is cer­tain­ly a pres­sure to say yes to every­thing, and also from the stand­point of try­ing to get to know peo­ple and make connections.”

“I’m find­ing that every­body asked that ques­tion at every lev­el of that engage­ment, whether it’s writ­ing that con­tract, book­ing the hall, book­ing the space, if Every­body just said, Wait a sec­ond, how can we mul­ti pack­age this so that it’s more sus­tain­able? I think it would be.”

“So when you think about busi­ness, and what can you do local­ly, it’s incred­i­ble when you start hang­ing your shin­gle up there and offer­ing this not just to the big cities, but you offer to the small, and they grow into these amaz­ing musicians.”

“I think for myself, per­son­al­ly, I’m very con­cerned about the envi­ron­ment and con­sid­er stew­ard­ship of cre­ation a real­ly impor­tant part of my, my being and my pur­pose. How that inter­sects with my music, I don’t think there’s a very direct line at this point; there is con­cern for those issues. And I appre­ci­ate when eco­log­i­cal care is part of the sub­ject mat­ter. I wor­ry that a lot of our efforts turn into guilt and anx­i­ety instead of change. So when I think of sus­tain­abil­i­ty, I want it to include action that makes things sustainable.”

“The chal­lenge of local, I think is also the chal­lenge of what we think we need to do in terms of per­for­mance. So we have to do we have a string quar­tet. So we have to have an opera. Maybe the music we make comes from the place that you are and the resources that you have, rather than insist­ing that we have an opera com­pa­ny or an orches­tra cen­ter. So I think that’s some­thing that is maybe part of the ques­tion, local is what is there.”

“And dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, there was this strange, strange phe­nom­e­non where all we can per­form can go any­where, etc. But sud­den­ly, those col­lab­o­ra­tions hap­pen between peo­ple that would nev­er hap­pen. It was actu­al­ly very pos­i­tive and inno­v­a­tive things that came out of it, some of which con­tin­ues now, stream­ing of con­certs, etc. But the gigan­tic serv­er farms that are skew­ing our data all over the world for our con­certs, for our emails to set up that con­cert, etc, etc, is very dirty. It’s very dirty. So this is a real anx­ious point is that fun­da­men­tal­ly where we have come and it’s not just artists, the entire soci­ety and cul­ture, world, human world, is that we’ve set up an infra­struc­ture, which is, seems extreme­ly chal­leng­ing to transform.”

“Wayne [Short­er] Wayne saw that the role of the artists is to bal­ance soci­ety. And some peo­ple would com­pare it to, in oth­er soci­eties, the role of the shaman, to explain things to the com­mu­ni­ty…  So Wayne would talk about, Per­form, or write music, that is the world you want to see. Play your dreams.”

“I think that there’s no such thing as any one com­mu­ni­ca­tion that does­n’t impair the envi­ron­ment at all, apart from what we’re doing right now. And even then, we have the lights on. And we’re still talk­ing, but it’s I think this is about as low car­bon as you can get right down. So every oth­er form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, com­pos­ing, cre­at­ing notation.”

“I don’t agree with West­ern nota­tion at any point in time, I just think that it’s an anti­quat­ed sys­tem, whether that again, my fam­i­ly sys­tem was far more anti­quat­ed. My grand­moth­er was very much a com­mu­ni­ca­tor, and every­thing was tran­ferred oral­ly. And so I give my stu­dents the option to do things like this in talk­ing cir­cles, and options to cre­ate music with­out score, or cre­ate music that does­n’t require 300 pages of West­ern nota­tion to com­mu­ni­cate with some­body. I think that as an artist, we have to com­mu­ni­cate these ideas of climate.”

“Where do you get your mon­ey from? Because they’re an Alber­ta based ensem­ble. And if I heard oil at all, I didn’t want any­thing to do with that, because that’s not sus­tain­able and com­plete­ly goes against the view­point of my the­sis. So why would I give up my artis­tic integri­ty for this. And I know I’m ear­ly in my career as well, too, but I don’t care, I stay with my prin­ci­ples. So I think that’s what we do at a local level.”

“some­thing I real­ly strug­gled with is how much is clas­si­cal music engage­ment with the envi­ron­ment, in ser­vice of advanc­ing a com­mon inter­est in pre­serv­ing the envi­ron­ment and how much of it is about mak­ing clas­si­cal music rel­e­vant. So that’s some­thing I grap­ple with as a musi­cian per­form­ing music that has very much been bound up in process­es of colo­nial­ism. The rea­son that I in Cana­da went to a Con­ser­va­to­ry as a kid and stud­ied clas­si­cal music large­ly has to do with colo­nial­ism. And that’s inter­twined with envi­ron­men­tal damage.”

“And as we are all artists here, that’s the pow­er that we have is the emo­tion­al pow­er of music, no mat­ter what we do, and how we do it, and how dirty it is or not. But we have the pow­er to be artis­tic lead­ers, also lis­ten­ers, great lis­ten­ers, but artis­tic lead­ers in the fact of mak­ing art and, and then ask­ing audi­ences for fel­low musi­cians to con­sid­er what we are singing, play­ing, and how we’re lis­ten­ing to that, and how that hope­ful­ly will fill us all with hope and joy. So that we have the ener­gy to act.”

“why is going to Ger­many for a con­cert of 100 peo­ple more valu­able than the con­cert in Bran­don for 100 peo­ple, and I think we have to sort of change our mind­set about who we’re con­nect­ing with and who we’re com­mu­ni­cat­ing with. And maybe rethink­ing the val­ues that are asso­ci­at­ed with that.”

Vancouver Meeting

Date: May 23, 2023
Loca­tion: Cana­di­an Music Cen­tre BC, 837 Davie St, Van­cou­ver, BC V6Z 1B7
Co-pre­sen­ter: Cana­di­an Music Cen­tre BC


The Van­cou­ver Meet­ing was gra­cious­ly host­ed by the Cana­di­an Music Cen­tre, BC Region. ED Ter­ri Hron opened the meet­ing and DB Boyko gra­cious­ly offered a land acknowl­edge­ment. Once again, Ter­ri offered an overview of the Sus­tain­able Futures project, a sum­ma­ry of the pre­vi­ous meet­ings, and some details on the upcom­ing nation­al event. The par­tic­i­pants includ­ed many Van­cou­ver artists whose work inter­sects with or is focused on envi­ron­men­tal issues as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the major new music pre­sen­ters. The large major­i­ty of our time was spent with each per­son shar­ing their back­ground and main concerns/experiences around sus­tain­abil­i­ty and resilience. 

Themes that came up included:

  • col­lab­o­ra­tion with nat­ur­al envi­ron­ments and habi­tats and how/whether to bring these into cul­tur­al spaces
  • sus­tain­abil­i­ty as a holis­tic prac­tice, in oppo­si­tion to the sur­vival mind­set. Health and rest some­times come in con­flict with exor­bi­tant rents and pres­sure to accept work that might have less sus­tain­able aspects, such as long travel.
  • cli­mate grief and anx­i­ety can be debil­i­tat­ing. Men­tal health issues are ris­ing. How can we trans­form these through creativity?
  • how do we move for­ward when all pro­duc­tions seem to cre­ate so much waste?
  • per­son­al and orga­ni­za­tion­al unrav­el­ing and unlearn­ing on a dai­ly basis
  • lis­ten­ing prac­tices as an anti­dote to par­ti­san thinking
  • how do we reframe the skills and prac­tices we were taught from a colo­nial mind­set towards some­thing that can keep serv­ing us?
  • what is com­mu­ni­ty? Does it exist to pro­tect what we have, or to encour­age work­ing with less and renounc­ing the per­son­al for the ben­e­fit of all? Who is in the community?
  • reliev­ing the scarci­ty and pre­car­i­ty mind­set (through UBI or rent con­trol) will allow people/artists more space to con­nect with their environment
  • embrac­ing the local. Shar­ing resources: Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­tered Fundraising
  • are the arts coun­cils spend­ing the major­i­ty of their resources on sus­tain­able projects (i.e. sym­pho­ny orches­tras and opera com­pa­nies) or do they think they can force large, cur­rent­ly less unsus­tain­able orga­ni­za­tions to improve their foot­print? How do we come into dia­logue with them?

“Since becom­ing more and more filled with this need to come to engage with the cli­mate emer­gency and par­tic­u­lar­ly with wild habi­tat destruc­tion from anthro­pogenic sources, I’ve sort of moved my atten­tion now to habi­tat. And so a lot of the work that I do now has to do with local habi­tats such as urban forests, and also wild, even old growth for­est. And that includes doing work with spe­cif­ic forests that are on the cut block. For me, it’s real­ly crit­i­cal to gain some more momen­tum around pre­serv­ing forests and trees, because if we don’t help them, they’re not going to help us with cli­mate. So you know, forests and trees are great as car­bon sinks, as well as being an incred­i­ble habi­tat for bio­di­ver­si­ty. And we now know that BC forests used to be car­bon sinks, but now they’re actu­al­ly car­bon sources, because there’s been so much log­ging and par­tic­u­lar­ly clear cutting.” 

“I’m explor­ing what sound events can be cre­at­ed, either in a for­est with trees, so it’s very much a col­lab­o­ra­tive sort of approach, but also can those meth­ods be adapt­ed into indoor sit­u­a­tions that we are more famil­iar with, like gal­leries and music venues.”

“Sus­tain­abil­i­ty in a holis­tic sense, in my prac­tice, is a lot about small things like hav­ing a sys­tem to recy­cle, reuse mate­ri­als, like build­ing and shar­ing things. Also try to think of sus­tain­abil­i­ty in terms of health, that if you don’t have health and rest, time and space that you can’t make deci­sions that con­sid­er the out­comes or the effects of your choic­es on oth­er peo­ple and artists to get into a sur­vival mind­set. It’s real­ly dif­fi­cult to con­sid­er things beyond your­self, because you’re just scram­bling to make rent or to get to the next gig or to secure the next oppor­tu­ni­ty. So in that sense, I think con­ver­sa­tions like uni­ver­sal income could give artists a lot of agency in the con­ver­sa­tion and sus­tain­abil­i­ty, I think it’s also you’re speak­ing from a posi­tion of priv­i­lege when you are able to, like, say no to fly­ing to this fes­ti­val gig for one day and the next one. And so artists often are stuck tak­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties that don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly work for us.”

“I’ve noticed as my career is devel­op­ing, that it’s eas­i­er for me to get oppor­tu­ni­ties abroad. Often­times it’s eas­i­er to get gigs in New York or San Fran­cis­co,  across the coun­try than it is to get some­thing in the city. And so I think there’s still real­ly a lure to the out of town artists. I’m glad to hear that there might be changes in terms of fes­ti­vals and pro­grams. Because I think there’s a lot of room to embrace and explore what’s in our com­mu­ni­ties before fly­ing artists in.”

“There’s a lot of cli­mate anx­i­ety, a lot of men­tal health stuff going on right now around cli­mate obvi­ous­ly, and what pops up for me is just being a mom of a small child and try­ing to pic­ture the future.”

“My lat­est project had real­ly strong envi­ron­men­tal themes. I was research­ing whales and con­nect­ing cli­mate grief and fam­i­ly his­to­ries. A lot of cli­mate grief and anx­i­ety came up dur­ing the cre­ation of that project. And, of course,it was great to get that out into a project, but then at the end, it nev­er ends. You can get it out on a project, you can explore it, you can try to work towards some­thing, but I find myself again, in these peri­ods, get­ting almost par­a­lyzed with that. And so I’m real­ly inter­est­ed right now in try­ing to find a way to trans­form that par­a­lyz­ing anx­i­ety into action. Because that’s the point where it’s just way more pro­duc­tive and help­ful for every­body, and also a more cre­ative state, where it’s more com­fort­able to every­body, and can actu­al­ly cre­ate some change. So I think work­ing with emo­tions and things like that, and try­ing to trans­form both per­son­al­ly, cre­ative­ly, orga­ni­za­tion­al­ly, is very helpful.”

“I’m inter­est­ed in how to move for­wards in an orga­ni­za­tion, because every time we do some­thing, it just seems like there’s so much waste involved. And again, how do we cre­ate things with­out using things and adding to the problem?”

“I’m in this stage of unrav­el­ing every­thing that I’ve ever learned. And which is, I keep say­ing my most favorite word is to be uncer­tain. The unrav­el­ing is real­ly dif­fi­cult because you have to repo­si­tion your­self every sin­gle day and it does make you feel alive and it is dis­con­cert­ing at the same time but I think that’s the only way that we’re gonna make some changes, is to be in that space.”

“What I’m main­ly doing in all these fields, both per­son­al and insti­tu­tion­al, is to try and fos­ter a sort of polit­i­cal activism that is not relat­ed to par­ti­san posi­tion or ide­o­log­i­cal way of think­ing, but  more regain­ing, through lis­ten­ing prac­tices, an hon­est, com­mu­ni­ty, a way of liv­ing togeth­er. But not just as humans but in a con­text of holis­tic and eth­i­cal per­spec­tives, which is actu­al­ly some­thing we are learn­ing more and more when we pay atten­tion to indige­nous philoso­phies and phe­nom­e­nolo­gies So that means instead of declar­ing a spe­cif­ic posi­tion or ide­ol­o­gy, cre­at­ing spaces for peo­ple to have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to lis­ten in a dif­fer­ent way, to acti­vate their body and their sens­es of sound through move­ment, with­in an eco­log­i­cal set­ting, with­in a lis­ten­ing set­ting, that can be an environment–and not nec­es­sar­i­ly a nat­ur­al environment–because we know that we can learn many things from any­where. And in doing so, hope­ful­ly cre­at­ing more aware­ness in the com­mu­ni­ty, Changes can only hap­pen if a larg­er group of peo­ple are syn­chro­nized on sim­i­lar ideas and sen­si­tized to sim­i­lar­i­ty. I hope peo­ple will take action, that we take action. We don’t need polit­i­cal dis­course, we need a form of liv­ing that enhances ways of regain­ing touch among our­selves, where human beings know humans, the stones, the plants, the waters and so forth. And so it’s all very utopi­an, but that’s what I’m try­ing to link towards, in every­thing we do now.”

“The pan­dem­ic has been real­ly good, because in cre­at­ing lots of alien­ation, it demon­strat­ed the fact that actu­al­ly we need to be work­ing in forms that are way more con­sol­i­dat­ed around shar­ing, because it’s about broth­er­hood or sis­ter­hood with any­thing and every­thing around us.”

“Every­thing I’ve been doing in the past, from my youth and grow­ing into this idea of becom­ing a musi­cian and com­pos­er was dri­ven by a cap­i­tal­is­tic form of think­ing. It’s not dri­ven by the idea of focus­ing on your being as a form of ener­gy that can be shared and can be pro­duced to the ben­e­fit of every­thing else, not just your­self, but the com­mu­ni­ty you live with­in. And that prac­tice means that I have to rein­vent all things that I’ve been doing, reject­ing the aes­thet­ic dis­course around the prac­tice I was doing before and, while not trash­ing the skills and the knowl­edge I’ve been accu­mu­lat­ing, re-eval­u­at­ing all this knowl­edge and tech­nique and skills from a dif­fer­ent perspective.”

“But there are oth­er forms of tak­ing peo­ple out and about, in which they will be, in a way, more attuned to them­selves and more able to release their anx­i­ety of need­ing to approve or dis­ap­prove, once the process­es are shared and the space is not restric­tive, and is actu­al­ly the com­mon space on our lands. Not even our lands, of lands and oceans. And so I want to fos­ter more of this activ­i­ty and it has been inspir­ing to see peo­ple com­ing out with­out being told to do this or that and allow them to dis­cov­er their own path into a space that offers sound move­ment, images, or just sim­ply lis­ten­ing to each other.”

“Anoth­er thing that real­ly strikes me is the local focus. For me, hav­ing two kids, right out of school, forced me to become a real­ly local­ly active artist. I did­n’t real­ly have the where­with­al to fig­ure out how I could trav­el with young kids. And so most of my career has been real­ly local­ly focused. That’s been a bit of a bar­ri­er, for sure. But there’s also a flip side to it, that this com­mu­ni­ty is such a rich place. And also my work is so root­ed in all of this, in this space, this nature. And so it’s a won­der­ful thing when we embrace it.”

“As an orga­ni­za­tion, we also present and make sure that local artists and orga­ni­za­tions and com­posers are also a major part of how we struc­ture our sea­sons. Since we’re talk­ing about inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty and so, from a sus­tain­abil­i­ty point of view, one of the inter­sec­tions I’ve noticed is the ongo­ing trend with dona­tions and look­ing at how we can actu­al­ly fund this work. dona­tions or down over all char­i­ta­ble giv­ing, with­in the last two years and will con­tin­ue to go down as the econ­o­my shifts. How can we afford to be able to con­tin­ue to unrav­el and remod­el and do what we want to do and how we want to do it in a sus­tain­able fash­ion, if we don’t have the funds to do that. So as devel­op­ers, and that’s one of the inter­sec­tions, but also, through Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­tered Fundrais­ing, and those guid­ing set of prin­ci­ples. I don’t remem­ber all of them off the top my head, but one of the main guide­lines is that there are enough funds for every­one, why do we have to keep them all to our­selves, and mak­ing sure that we’re able to dis­perse them. And as an orga­ni­za­tion, we can say, ‘We also encour­age you to donate to oth­er organizations.’”

“when you’re unrav­el­ing some­thing in the mid­dle, can you call it riv­et­ing. Some­times you have to soak, rec­on­cile the piece that you’ve unrav­eled and let it reform before you can move into some­thing else. So part of that, the knit­ting back into some­thing else, takes a lot of time, takes a lot of ener­gy, takes a lot of focus and want­i­ng to make it into some­thing else. And so I see a lot of pos­i­tiv­i­ty, just being able to have these con­ver­sa­tions, and also hav­ing so much of these con­ver­sa­tions also simul­ta­ne­ous­ly with the idea of sus­tain­abil­i­ty, the idea of jus­tice, jus­tice, equal­i­ty, diver­si­ty, inclu­sion and acces­si­bil­i­ty, but as well as rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and about the idea of how can we rec­on­cile or change”

“Rent is just over­whelm­ing­ly prob­lem­at­ic. Now also, basi­cal­ly food, gro­ceries, every­thing. So it’s a huge cloud over my com­mu­ni­ty here. That’s a prob­lem. When these things are in place, is there a secu­ri­ty, com­fort, and the basic needs are tak­en care of, then we can more eas­i­ly even spend more time in nature our­selves. The artist can be more con­nect­ed to environment.”

“I’ve been think­ing very much about the cli­mate and the ethics of what I do, even how my ego was involved in try­ing to pur­sue this career. I think about the ethics of tour­ing. As much as I would love to get a tour of Europe again, I actu­al­ly find that it’s an epi­cal­ly irre­spon­si­ble thing. Even tour­ing in Cana­da, such a big coun­try. I would still like to be able to go back and forth. But again, I don’t know that it’s eth­i­cal­ly respon­si­ble for me to keep doing. So I think about this all the time.”

“Think­ing about com­mu­ni­ty cen­tered fundrais­ing, how do we allow there to be more inter­weav­ing of the tools and resources that we have. Think­ing about the safe­ty of the artist: so for me, just try­ing to sur­vive I have actu­al­ly found it quite dif­fi­cult to make enough mon­ey and so again, I’ve been doing a lot of these stu­pid extra gigs which I don’t real­ly like. But peo­ple have been fly­ing me to Prince George and Kelow­na, Kam­loops and I just think, why are there all these orches­tras? Why is there so much mon­ey spent with fly­ing or, or pay­ing musi­cians from Van­cou­ver to trav­el to these places? That, again, why, and I under­stand that for the com­mu­ni­ties that live in those places„ but it’s also self-sustaining.” 

“I was told by some col­leagues in the jury, for some peo­ple in Cana­da, Beethoven is an asset for Cana­di­an cul­ture. And if you look at the bud­get this year, what the coun­cil is spend­ing for sym­pho­ny orches­tras and opera com­pa­nies in this province is 85% of the music budget.”

“There are 20 com­pa­nies in this world that make the major­i­ty of the pollution. 

Every time they tear down a house in Van­cou­ver, it’s 70 tons or more of waste that goes into land­fill. If I recy­cled for my entire com­plete life, which I have, it’s not going to make a dent in that. It has to be a change that’s going to be big­ger than every­body just doing one thing. It’s not that that lets us off the hook, we should still do our one thing. But we’ve got to get togeth­er and put pres­sure on the big, big pol­luters, because they’re the ones that are real­ly going to be able to make a difference.”

“We have to look for a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent frame­work. I mean, we are too spoiled. Real­ly. Every­one here used the word com­mu­ni­ty. Great. What is this? What is a com­mu­ni­ty? Not just because you’re liv­ing geo­graph­i­cal­ly  in the same space, is there a com­mu­ni­ty. And the com­mu­ni­ty on the Sun­shine Coast is a com­mu­ni­ty of spoiled mid­dle class peo­ple like me, that go in the show­er and have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to change the tem­per­a­ture of the water at any time they want. A com­mu­ni­ty is a place where you renounce some­thing to the ben­e­fit of every­one, Renounc­ing is some­thing we are not accus­tomed to doing, because we are enslaved by this idea of acquir­ing, acquir­ing, acquir­ing or cap­i­tal­iz­ing on this, cap­i­tal­iz­ing on that. Gen­eros­i­ty is some­thing we can cul­ti­vate more and more.”

“We’re hold­ing all the resources, we’re hold­ing the gold, we’re hold­ing all that stuff. I think that there is actu­al­ly some­thing real­ly pos­i­tive in terms of what we have as expe­ri­ence, every­one in this room has that. And how do we go back and unrav­el the knit­ting and all of those things to come? To just keep that fire going, and be the best that we can with that. And then all the oth­er pieces will fig­ure them­selves out. Clear­ly the net­work­ing, who you part­ner with, to know how to start mov­ing walls. I work for the city is the most head­bang­ing place to be. It’s very dis­il­lu­sion­ing. But if I can just keep car­ry­ing that… there are days where it’s ter­ri­ble, but there are days where it’s great and you move for­ward. We have to car­ry that light with­in us. And I’m real­ly not even try­ing to think on any spir­i­tu­al lev­el. We’ve already done our work. And now we have to work again. Just got­ta keep car­ry­ing it on.”

Montreal Meeting

Date: June 14, 2023
Loca­tion: Goethe-Insti­tut, 1626 Boul. Saint-Lau­rent Bureau 100, Mon­tréal, QC H2X 2T1
Co-pre­sen­ter: Groupe Le Vivier

Like the pre­vi­ous meet­ings, our host and col­lab­o­ra­tor, Groupe Le Vivi­er, opened the meet­ing with a word from Gabrielle Blais-Sénéchal. CNMN was par­tic­u­lar­ly grate­ful for this wel­come and Le Vivier’s efforts, giv­en the fire that dev­as­tat­ed their offices and meet­ing places only a cou­ple weeks pri­or, and of the Goethe Insti­tut, which offered us their space for the meet­ing. ED Ter­ri Hron con­tin­ued the intro­duc­tion with a land acknowl­edge­ment and a short sum­ma­ry of the Sus­tain­able Futures project, these region­al meet­ings, and the upcom­ing nation­al event. We had two guests come to talk to us about actions and pos­si­ble sup­port in Que­bec for sus­tain­able actions and trans­for­ma­tions: Car­o­line Voy­er from the Que­bec Coun­cil for Eco-respon­si­ble Events, and Chris­tine Dan­cause and Nathalie Rae from the Con­seil des Arts et des Let­tres du Québec (CALQ), who pre­sent­ed the envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies and tools put in place for the community.

Car­o­line Voy­er, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Que­bec Coun­cil for Eco-respon­si­ble Events, stressed the impor­tance of cal­cu­lat­ing car­bon foot­print before cre­at­ing a coher­ent and adapt­ed action plan. It encour­ages any cul­tur­al enti­ty to try this exer­cise. The cal­cu­la­tion is pos­si­ble in par­tic­u­lar using the Cre­ative Green plat­form, which offers cul­tur­al orga­ni­za­tions a self-mon­i­tor­ing tool for mea­sur­ing their car­bon footprint.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the CALQ, Chris­tine Dan­cause and Nathaly Rae pre­sent­ed the ter­ri­to­r­i­al part­ner­ship pro­gram which allows cul­tur­al enti­ties to ben­e­fit from sup­port and assis­tance in their action plans, both in terms of pro­duc­tion, dis­sem­i­na­tion, pro­mo­tion and consolidation.

Specif­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed for mem­bers of Le Vivi­er, the meet­ing con­tin­ued with exchanges that brought out avenues of reflec­tion in the cre­ative music and sound sec­tor and that Le Vivi­er could work on. These included:

  • Encour­age slow-cre­ation/s­low-pro­duc­tion
  • Pro­mot­ing the notion of “sus­tain­able cre­ation” and increas­ing the num­ber of shows in the region
  • Ques­tion­ing sin­gle/one-off per­for­mances, con­sid­er­ing all the logis­tics and the hall coordination/conflicts that this generates
  • Lim­it­ing “growth at any cost” thinking
  • Mak­ing works last longer thanks to dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies (but what is/are also the impact(s) of dig­i­tal on the environment?)

“In pro­gram­ming, we often tell our­selves we should slow down the pace of the cycle of cre­ation, pro­duc­tion, dis­tri­b­u­tion, but right now, orga­ni­za­tions are forced to main­tain an inten­sive pace.”

“There is some­thing that basi­cal­ly seems very dif­fi­cult to me: we are pro­duc­tion orga­ni­za­tions, we always have to make new works, so there is a designed obso­les­cence in our work. A cre­ation four years ago is no longer a cre­ation. There are ques­tions to be asked here, about sus­tain­able cre­ation. But then when we are asked to reduce, but my com­pa­ny’s man­date is to cre­ate, to pro­duce. All my efforts are towards try­ing to pro­duce more, and to cut costs. The most effec­tive way for me to reduce my foot­print would be to pro­duce less, that’s for sure.”

“In Mon­tre­al, dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, there was “Quand l’art prend air” [CAM pro­gram]. Espe­cial­ly for chil­dren, when you think about reduc­ing ener­gy, it essen­tial­ly worked just acousti­cal­ly. [Projects] that can be done with­out equip­ment, with­out infra­struc­ture and mod­est­ly, those would be great projects to pro­pose, to cre­ate beau­ti­ful part­ner­ships, and these pro­grams could be pro­duced more regularly. »

“The oth­er thing is growth at all costs. I actu­al­ly think that we should­n’t go in that direc­tion, that’s pre­cise­ly what we’re try­ing to slow down in many spheres of soci­ety, and espe­cial­ly in the cul­tur­al field, where increas­ing the offer is not no longer a solu­tion, but it’s much more about reach­ing the pub­lic, and in par­tic­u­lar regionally.”

“We should put empha­sis on recov­er­ing and con­sol­i­dat­ing resources.”

“From what I hear of our needs in terms of shar­ing resources towards a con­cern for eco-respon­si­bil­i­ty, I think that Le Vivi­er can real­ly be an impor­tant vec­tor for its mem­bers at this time. I think it’s very impor­tant that we work together.”

“We are work­ing on our dig­i­tal plan. Of course, we won­der if dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy can help works have a longer life cycle. There are many mem­bers who made excep­tion­al projects in the hall and also online, and so, what do we do with this con­tent, so that it con­tin­ues to live? So that’s a real reflec­tion that we have inter­nal­ly, the dis­cus­sion in rela­tion to data. How do we archive all that and how do we cre­ate a cen­ter for the cir­cu­la­tion of works and artists.”