Creative Cities from the Grassroots Up
a panel discussion about creating equitable cities
6:30pm - 8:30pm
Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, Centennial Hall, University of Winnipeg
515 Portage Ave, Winnipeg, MB
WINNIPEG MB, October 24, 2008 – As a city, Winnipeg is inimitable. Its inspiring history of grassroots activism and its vibrant professional arts community easily outshine tales of long winters and mosquitoes. Yet, at the same time, Winnipeg struggles with social and economic inequities that prevent it from being a place where all citizens can live well in a sustainable manner. This disconnect must be addressed.
With the initiation of many new building projects, rising real estate prices and gentrification, and now finally the promise of a rapid transit system that aims to draw people closer together while reducing the number of vehicles on the road, it is clear that Winnipeg is witnessing a burst of development. However, owing to a lack of measured and coherent planning involving the input, ideas, and skills of citizens representing a diverse range of communities, interests, and needs, it is more important than ever to contemplate what type of city we truly want.
In other cities, and in other countries, an idea generating renewed buzz is the idea of a “creative city”... a city that attracts hip entrepreneurs and tourists with money burning holes in their pockets. The formula seems easy enough: build posh condos, start an international film festival, pour money into convention centers and other big glossy boxes that can be rented for weddings, and economic prosperity will surely follow. Is that so? Many seem convinced. That being, of course, those who believe future development is best served by letting the marketplace -- and nothing else -- lead the way. Surely, we can be more conscious, more proactive, and more creative than that.
A "creative city" is more than a popular catchphrase; it is a complex and loaded concept that is often used without a clear understanding of what culture is, how it happens, how people become involved, and why a critical approach to culture is necessary to build a truly "livable" city. Culture is more than a mere commodity.
To what extent do perspectives on the nature of urban life acknowledge the role of artists and other creative thinkers in the organic versus constructed evolution of city dynamics? How can a local arts policy help a city move toward intelligent and sustainable incorporations of creativity that embrace challenging practices and empowering critique as part of a healthy social and political process and framework for equitable development?
Many contemporary art practices demonstrate intersections with other aspects of contemporary life. Thus, it is important to participate in conversations about the roles of creative practitioners in ways that cross disciplinary boundaries. It is true that we sometimes speak different languages and, consequently, do not always understand each other. Nevertheless, let us find common ground in the following question: To what extent can artists contribute to the livability of cities in ways that transcend the decoration of them? And in doing so, let us consider contemporary art as a point of entry into exploring ethical human interaction as a premise for urban development.
Hazel Borys, Managing Principal of Placemakers, will discuss new urbanism and draw attention to planning strategies that incorporate social, ecological, cultural, and economic interests and measures.
Roewan Crowe, artist and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, will address community building through relational practices in the arts, as well as an event she curated called Art Building Community, which took place at the University of Winnipeg in May 2008.
Izida Zorde, Editor of FUSE magazine, will explore the contradictions inherent in conventional understandings of what constitutes a “creative city”. She will demonstrate the consequences of accepting this proposition without sufficient recognition of local conditions, strengths, energies, and needs.
A response will be offered by Tricia Wasney, Manager - Public Art, Winnipeg Arts Council.
This discussion will be moderated by Jino Distasio, Director of the Institute for Urban Studies.
Members of the media are welcome to attend this free event, which is open to all; no pre-registration is required.
Organized by the University of Winnipeg's Gallery 1C03 with generous support from:
The Institute for Women's & Gender Studies
Institute of Urban Studies
Visiting Lecturers Committee, Department of History
Department of Political Science
This event is free for all - all are welcome!
Hazel Mouzon Borys is the Managing Principal/President of PlaceMakers, LLC, a U.S.-based New Urbanist firm that addresses the full scope of placemaking through a passion for creating timeless and endearing places and a committed to translating time-tested principles into purposeful efforts for quality growth. Borys holds an MBA in finance and marketing, coupled with an electrical engineering bachelors degree and, within PlaceMakers, she guides both public and private sector clients through urban design and master planning efforts, utilizing collaborative community outreach techniques. Her work encompasses visioning efforts with cities and towns to articulate master plans, followed by land use reform to enable walkable, mixed-use, compact, sustainable places — both infill blocks and buildings and greenfield neighborhoods.
Roewan Crowe has a passion for feminist art, creating community, and facilitating initiatives in cultural democracy. Her varied practice employs a 'feminist curiosity' crafting together academic prose, poetry, theory, photography, performance, fiction, activism, and video. In May of 2008, in collaboration with Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art, Crowe curated the Art Building Community Project, which launched 10 new works and a weekend symposium. She is currently working on an arts-based research project entitled, "Feminist Imagination as a Space of Resistance: Artistic Practices Contesting Violence", which explores the ways in which art creates space for forbidden narratives to contest massive political processes such as economic globalization and militarism. She is also working on a project, "A Positive Sense of Origin and Belonging: An Initiative in Cultural Democracy with Aboriginal Girls in Winnipeg’s North End", with historian Jarvis Brownlie, and Cheyenne Henry at Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre. She is the Academic Director of The University of Winnipeg's Institute for Women's & Gender Studies housed at Global College and she teaches with the Women's and Gender Studies Department.
Dr. Jino Distasio is the Director of the Institute of Urban Studies, University of Winnipeg, a position he has held since 2003. Jino has worked and researched Winnipeg's inner city and urban issues since joining the Institute in 2000. During this time he has examined urban Aboriginal housing and mobility, reviewed and studies problems and solutions for rooming houses and single room occupancy hotels as well as actively participating on numerous inner city committees and boards. At the national level, he has led multi-city projects that have examined hidden homelessness, working poverty and most recently developed a national neighbourhood distress index for Canadian cities. He also helped produce an urban Aboriginal housing plan for Winnipeg. Jino actively teaches urban issues and is an Adjunct Professor of City Planning at the University of Manitoba. He is also routinely asked to provide both local and national media comment on issues relating to urban change and poverty, transportation, inner city renewal and other civic and urban issues.
Tricia Wasney has worked in Winnipeg's art community for many years in roles including program coordinator, project manager, board member, juror, and artist/writer. In former positions at the Winnipeg Art Gallery she developed programming in film, literature, and music and managed the creation of two virtual exhibitions. She has served as a juror for the Manitoba Arts Council and Video Pool's First Video Fund and she has held board positions with Prairie Fire Magazine and the Winnipeg Film Group. Wasney holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film Studies and a Master of Landscape Architecture degree, both from the University of Manitoba. Her work in recent years has centered on the exploration of identity through place and environment. Since May 2002, she has researched public art programs worldwide while developing the public art policy that was adopted by Winnipeg's City Council in September 2003. In January 2004 she was appointed to the role of Manager - Public Art.
Izida Zorde is a writer, curator, and the editor of FUSE magazine. She is a founding member of the Department of Culture and a co-curator, with Heather Haynes, of the Creative Cities exhibition at the Toronto Free Gallery (January 15 - March 1, 2009). Her critical work explores politically engaged visual arts practices, neo-liberal economics, and participatory democratic models.