Saturday, 28 April 2012

Art and Social Justice

Bothered by My Green Conscience
Franke James' book on climate change.

A call went out for artists across Ottawa with an interest in Social Justice and Art to meet at the Public Service Alliance building just the side of the business district mid-afternoon today.

After weighing my 2:00 pm options, 1) stay and keep on working on the computer, 2) try and create some art, 3) write some outstanding personal letters, 4) clean the apartment, 5) head to PSAC for the meeting,  I decided that a walk in the sun to the meeting, bundled against the early-spring chill, was the best choice.

Three hours later, I was back home and glad that I made what turned out to be the right decision.

In a large meeting room, 15 or so people formed a tight circle and introduced themselves. The mix was heavily female, maybe three or four men, everyone over 20, and at least six over 50, one Chinese girl, two Blacks, and a luthier from France. A good group.

Interestingly, most people were musicians, players, singers and/or song-writers. Most were in bands or groups, some of which I'd seen, such as Three Little Birds and Tower of Song.

Introductions were lengthy and detailed and then in another go-around, people spoke about how they feel about art having an impact on social justice or how can it be used to have an impact, more to the point. There were some interesting perspectives and some bordering on naive.

These days, whenever I hear a blanket statement, I immediately want to examine it from a number of perspectives. Some present today were taking things at face-value. Becoming involved in an intergenerational group will bring them up to speed quickly as they realize that their tender years mitigate against wisdom.

Towards the end of the meeting, the discussion turned to what next. Some wanted to investigate the student strike situation in Quebec, others wanted to work towards teaching others how to explore themselves and their beliefs through music and I suggested that we might want to see how artist Franke James is doing since she had a $5,000 travel grant rescinded after the Conservative government decided that they did not like her stance on a variety of things. Can we say censorship! You can get details here: