The idea that social change and the arts are siloed and separate is never a world view I’ve shared. Growing up in Ontario, we had political discussions around the evening newscast while many weekends we spent attending artistic performances at Stratford, the O’Keefe Centre in Toronto or the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-lake. Dance, music, visual arts, theatre – and combinations of these – were the norm and often they delved into complex nature of politics and the human experience. They were all one.
Today, the siloes exist even less in my life. Being married to a theatrical lighting and set designer, many of our evenings are spent taking in the latest theatrical presentation at theatre houses small and large around Vancouver. I also sit on the Board of a small theatre company and of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Artists are our story tellers and our conscience and so often help us begin to make sense of the complex issues the surrounds us. I couldn’t imagine my life without regularly diving into their interpretations of the human condition. That artists and social changes makers are working more together to build and understand the world we live in makes sense – and together, we are a powerful force.
Last week I attended a Symposium at the Artists for Conservation Festival and I felt right at home. Surrounded by the creations of dozens of incredible artists, leading conservationists talked about their work, and of the challenges we face. Some talked about specific issues, while others spoke about how we needed to develop a new way of thinking about what conservation was and how environmentalism worked – and how art and artists (in all their forms) were becoming more important in how we connected with people and how we were going to build a better world. Raincoast Foundation’s recent “Art for an Oil Free Coast” initiative showed just how powerful that partnership can be.
On October 24th, Georgia Strait Alliance will be holding a fundraiserat the new Bateman Centre in Victoria – and the location couldn’t be more perfect. Robert Bateman’s art has helped many generations of Canadians better understand the natural world around them and be more engaged in protecting what we have. What better way to celebrate our work and our future than surrounded by the art of one so committed to the same cause we are – ensuring that the richness of our land and water is here to support us for generations to come.
We hope you’ll come and celebrate with us on the 24th. It will be an inspirational evening – and we hope one of many to come where the arts and the environment share an equal stage.