Art With and Without Institutions

Alexa Mardon, April 2016

What roles do institutions play in our decisions about dance and dance-making? How can institutions change to meet the needs of artists and citizens, and when does an institution need to "sunset?" In light of an invigorating discussion on April 21st at battery opera's The Talking Thinking Dancing Body with guest facilitator Sadira Rodrigues, we've gathered some links around ideas like: upcoming change for one of our country's largest institutions, the need for real "diversity" versus tokenism and appropriation, and art and activism alive and well outside of institutional structures.

Canada Council’s diversity focus brings new opportunities, challenges: "Different institutions will, of course, encounter different challenges with respect to the new assessment criteria – especially more highbrow (read: Eurocentric) art forms such as symphony orchestras, opera companies and ballet."

How Institutions Think: "we cannot plausibly think about the future of any institution without confronting the terrible failures and opprobrious injustices of the past, most glaringly what [Zahia Rahmani] characterised as the ‘toxicity’ of Western Europe’s colonial system."

The Most Relevant Art Today Is Taking Place Outside the Art World: "The structures by which art is typically presented are not a predetermined, natural way to look at art. They are constructs (gasp), carrying all the baggage of our society and benefiting those who are usually benefited."

Diverus: The Past, Present and Future of "Diversity Work": "Our arts institutions, whether a gallery, non-profit, academy, university, or museum, are rooted in European imperial history. Every iteration, no matter its geographical location, is a colonial reproduction of a system rooted in white supremacy, Eurocentrism, patriarchy, and cis-heteronormativity."

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