STORIES OF NOW: Judith Marcuse Projects & International Centre of Art for Social Change


Vignette – Judith Marcuse Projects & International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC) (Vancouver)

“STORIES OF NOW” is part of a project ArtBridges is working on with Judith Marcuse Projects’ ASCN (Arts for Social Change Network) and ICASC. It is about gathering and sharing stories emanating from the field now and about what issues and areas of focus matter.

In conversation with: Judith Marcuse, Artistic Producer, Judith Marcuse Projects & Founder/Director, International Centre of Art for Social Change, October 20th, 2021

If you could tell a story about your community-engaged arts initiative now, this year, what would the story be about? What are the main themes?

JM: Connectivity, despite not being able to be in the same room, innovation, new methodologies. This work is normally touchy-feely work, there are perks being on line – communicating & exchanging – connecting with people in new ways. We’ve gained a broader sense of people across the country especially in the north – resources and culture. We’ve gained a new understanding about communities without broadband internet access.

What are the main issues your community-engaged arts initiative faces? (e.g., social justice, environmental justice, pandemic-related, operational, financial, HR)

JM: All of the above! Operationally- delays in funding from grant applications, sustainability, hard to know the future.

How has your initiative been addressing these main issues?

JM: We’re making new applications for funding and going to new sources. We added a new Comms person – for a few projects. We’re doing the launch of Arts for Social Change Network (ASCN), doing the 4th cohort of FUTURES/Forward – connecting artists with environmental groups. Social justice can’t be separated from environmental justice – they go hand in hand. This is critically important in all kinds of change agendas. We’re embracing new digital skills in communication, going forward!

How has the community of participants that your initiative engages with evolved in the past year (if at all)?

JM: It’s a much larger community at the national and int’l levels because of our work in the UN in health and arts, the elders’ circle we’re involved with, and how we expanded our network through ASCN and FUTURES/forward with new partnerships. (It’s summarized in the attachment.)

How is your organization engaging with your community right now? (Logistics, pandemic public health and safety guidelines & policies, changes in the way we gather)

JM: It’s all gone virtual.  As soon as we can open up, we’ll go there, but we’ll be a hybrid from now on. The Arts for Social Change Network (ASCN) is the right thing at this time.

What are one or two new projects your initiative implemented this year?

JM: ASCN, and FUTURES/forward– continuity and refining of programs.  

What is your initiative doing new–digitally–compared to pre-pandemic?

JM: We’re operating everything digitally now, including internally. We let go of our office.  Before the pandemic we were meeting face to face. Now talking on zoom or email, there’s less chitchat, but we’re expanding conversations in email. We’re writing things down; the amount of detail in agendas is more than ever being written down. 

Is there a recent achievement, wonderful moment, or quote you’d like to share about your initiative or its impact?

JM: Several – we (Kim & Judith) received wonderful cards, notes and art from people involved in FUTURES/forward. (See the attached document). Impacts were on both mentees and environmental groups. Intersectoral collaborations work. It took a while to understand each other’s language (artists/environmental groups). Community-engaged arts are now in environmental groups’ strategies…this exchange was never experienced before.

In conversation with Seanna Connell, ArtBridges

Click image to view Futures/forward backgrounder or click link below:

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