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Connecting Perspectives: Art Beyond Borders

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June 4, 2021

The Social Distancing Festival (SDF) and Canada’s diplomatic missions in the United States are proud to announce a new online digital exhibition of 13 cross-disciplinary artworks, entitled Connecting Perspectives: A Cross-Border Art Initiative. This unique virtual exhibit showcases the work of 26 visual artists, choreographers, dancers, composers, musicians, poets and spoken word artists from across Canada and the U.S., who were paired to collaborate on new pieces of art in a virtual setting. The digital exhibition can be viewed online here.

Like so much else, the art world has been shaken by the pandemic—the sector was the first to be shut down by COVID-19, and will likely be the last to recover. Artists and creatives have been severely impacted by the turbulence and uncertainty of the crisis. According to research by Americans for the Arts, 94% of working artists in the U.S. reported income loss, and 62% have become fully unemployed. North of the border paints a similarly dire picture. A study by I Lost My Gig Canada showed that workers in the creative industries lost an average of $25,000 CAD due to COVID-19. The Toronto-based Social Distancing Festival and the Consulate General of Canada in New York partnered to launch Connecting Perspectives to support artists across disciplines and build community across the shared Canada-U.S. border.

Inspired by The Social Distancing Festival’s Long Distance Art series, which saw pairs of artists from around the world coproduce new art, Connecting Perspectives matched artists in Canada and the U.S. to develop multidisciplinary art that draw inspiration from the theme “Art Today”. To participate and receive a $1200 USD stipend, individuals were required to meet a set of eligibility qualifications, submit a portfolio and identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Colour (BIPOC). Applications were then reviewed by a jury of professional BIPOC artists, who chose the final 26 artists for the project. Those selected were paired with another artist (1 artist in Canada with 1 artist in the U.S.), and participated in an online introduction and orientation session. Throughout their creative process, the artists were guided by an Artistic Team, led by Nick Green, award-winning playwright and the Creator of SDF, and Tawhida Tanya Evanson, poet, artist and Spoken Word Program Director at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Pairs had approximately six weeks to complete their joint artworks, which range from one collaboratively-created piece to a collection of several new works.

“The Connecting Perspectives series highlights not only how innovative artists are, but also how impactful they are in telling stories,” said Khawar Nasim, Acting Consul General of Canada in New York. “Despite our new virtual reality, these 26 individuals from across our two countries came together to create unique pieces of art that reflect what it means to be an artist today.”

Artists in this inaugural project include Victoria’s Poet Laureate Emeritus Janet Rogers, Juno Award-winning musician Leela Gilday, RAPtivism founder Aisha Fukushima, and actor and poet Jozer Guerrero. Throughout the summer, the project’s partners will host a virtual, public event series, where the artists will discuss their works and creative processes.

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