This past weekend, members of the DAREarts team, including Founder and President Marilyn Field, attended the Power of the Arts National Forum, hosted by the Michaëlle Jean Foundation at Carleton University. Riding the wave of momentum built by the inaugural event in 2013, this year’s theme was “Acting Now for Social Change”
DAREarts, along with the 270 other artists, educators, organizations, policy makers, business leaders, researchers, health practitioners, youth and advocates from an array of sectors around Canada were gathered to raise awareness, share best practices and take action on a truth we know to be fundamental: that the arts are a powerful and undeniable tool for social change.
Over three intense, thought-provoking days, the power of arts and culture were put on display in an array of fascinating ways. We witnessed uplifting dance and musical performances, were challenged to consider new ways of building relationships between sectors, to find creative models of sustainability and to reconsider how our practices contribute to the pluralistic nature of Canadian society. DAREarts attended the forum last year, and we’ll be doing so again in 2015.
This forum also highlighted the continuing necessity of what we’re doing at DAREarts to ignite change and build leadership within our country’s vulnerable young people. We were honoured to present at a workshop and engage in spirited conversation with colleagues (and future collaborators!) about how our innovative programming builds leaders who transform communities.
Another thread running through the weekend was role the arts are playing in the reconciliation process between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. We heard from three incredible youth from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation who have invited non-Indigenous Canadians to their remote community to build understanding, make friends, break down stereotypes, and foster peace between Nations. Their generosity, inner strength and leadership was inspiring to witness. We also heard the drum, learned to speak Mik’maq and were invigorated by a round dance, which transformed a rectangular room full of chairs and straight lines into a place where everyone was equal in the circle.
That spirit of oneness is important to hold on to. DAREarts partners with professional artists and cultural institutions in communities across the country to deliver the most enriching and transformative experience possible to our young people. The way forward for a better Canada is contained in this philosophy of collaboration and the young leaders empowered by DAREarts know this to be true.
Thank you to the Michaëlle Jean Foundation for inviting us to this wonderful event. It was an honour to be among such powerful champions for the arts.