A year ago, CAPACOA launched a series of international conversations by artists and presenters/producers/curators in lockdown. Canadians were joined by their counterparts from South America, Mexico, Scotland and Asia to meet, discuss their lockdown situations, share their practices and most importantly, connect at a time when the globe was in lockdown and artists and theatres were unable to make and present art. The pandemic was a traumatic time for most left with no income, no livelihood and far too much uncertainty.
CAPACOA provided a lifeline through tri-weekly meetings between Canadians and their international counterparts. Those gatherings were quite successful, and therefore, the project continues with new cohorts starting up with Spain/Portugal and New Zealand/Australia. Additionally, since May, the 160-strong original international cohort has continued to meet every week, with 30-50 attending a weekly provocation from one of their peers and followed by a shared discussion. Since June, we have started Studio Visits every two weeks. In these visits, artists take us on a visit behind the scenes to their studios, where we get to learn more about their practice and discover what inspires them, what motivates their artistic inquiry and how they make sense of their practice, be it during the pandemic or beyond. All these studio visits are so personal, so touching and human.
The desire to continue to meet regularly has also led to weekly provocations by members of the cohort. Every week, one person volunteers to lead a topic that they are passionate about, and that is affecting us all in lockdown and post lockdown. Topics have been varied but always provocative and challenging, as well as thoughtful and meditative. The openness of individuals to share very personal thoughts and perspectives in a safe space has been moving, emotional and allowed us all to challenge and be challenged. From discussions on climate change and acting locally while thinking globally; the effects of funding on art; working in sparsely populated communities and its impact on artists and audiences; the new world of international exchange post the pandemic – will the process of creating change? Will presentation structures change? Can art be at the centre of repair and healing, and if so, how? What will artistic leadership of building-based or place-based organizations look like in a post-pandemic, 21st-century context?
It has been a journey like no other. It continues with a session at the Edinburgh Fringe led by Scottish producer and presenter LJFindlay Walsh and culminating at the CAPACOA conference with opportunities for continued conversations with the broader CAPACOA community and international colleagues.
Without a doubt, CAPACOA has found a sanctuary for dialogue, exchange, debate that offers a brilliant space to meet artists and presenters whom we would never have had the opportunity to meet in person. A platform where we can share, connect and plant seeds for future collaborations, partnerships, invitations and touring. Most importantly, it has given us hope for an exciting future viewed through a new lens and delivered through exciting new initiatives.