This month a group of seven artists from around British Columbia (BC) gathered at Rotary Centre of the Arts (RCA) and Lake Country Gallery for a co-facilitated artist residency, sharing and presenting new and in-process artworks and lively discussions. The RCA fully supported the artists with creative space to work and collaborate within its multi-disciplinary performing and visual arts centre.
Often artists are competing for opportunities—exhibitions, funding, audiences, and other supports. The goal of this micro-residency was to experiment with the collaborative community to encourage a different kind of artistic culture—one based on community rather than competition.
The residency was organized by artists Leah Weinstein, Annie Briard, and Melany Nugent, with participating artists Tara Nicholson, Andreas Rutkauskas, prOphecy sun, and Scott Massey. These artists live and work across BC—on unceded First Nations Territories in Vancouver, Kelowna, Smithers, Nelson, and Penticton. Working in a range of media including photography, video, sound, social practice, sculpture, and performance, their diverse practices explored many themes including landscape, community, climate change, and larger systems—both technological and cosmological.
The organizing artists are interested in non-hierarchical modes of co-facilitation, with a particular interest in artist-run/ artist-led institutions. For example, Leah Weinstein founded and ran a mobile gallery in a converted school bus, called SiteFactory (2016- 2018). This itinerant gallery exhibited local artists in unconventional sites around Vancouver. One of the aims of SiteFactory was to bring opportunities to artists, allowing more agency in how and where their work was presented. With support from the BC Arts Council, SiteFactory became a series of collaborative, artist-led projects.
“Micro-residencies are an extension of the SiteFactory project, where the artists choose how they share their work,” said Leah Weinstein. “Both projects create a flexible container within which artists can workshop ideas and foster dialogue.” In an often highly competitive art world, these opportunities are essential for developing and building community.
All of the artists agreed that the weekend was productive and generative for their practices- lots of great conversations, reflections, and ideas. Focusing on collaboration becomes even more vital in times often characterized by division and isolation and the Rotary Centre for the Arts supports such artists' projects through residency programs with outcomes that support the RCA’s mandate.