On September 13th & 14th, 2017, surrounded by the beauty found in the Art Gallery of Burlington‘s studios, galleries, and greenhouse, delegates from across Canada came together for a high-energy discussion on craft sector collaboration.
The CCF/FCMA was proud to host 36 professionals, with representation from each province and territory, to participate in group meetings, breakout sessions, and presentations over the course of two intensive days. The itinerary for this years events, our 12th annual conference, was purposefully focused on collaboration and change, exploring the means by which craft organizations come together, and identifying joint tactics for collective improvement.
Launching with a review of the national actions & directions of the CCF/FCMA over the past year, including a report on current and future plans, delegates then tackled key areas of collective interest through guided breakout sessions on advocacy, marketing, research and exhibition activity. Each group suggested specific projects, issues, and challenges for the national organization to review and tackle through committee action.
On the second day of events, our keynote speakers took to the stage, sharing insight and advice on essential development for craft organizations. Our keynote speaker, Charles Smith, Executive Director of Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario discussed the value and impact of diversity, and the importance of organizational will. Breaking down the steps and providing guidance on how to approach diversification, Smith extolled the virtues of commitment to change, of collaboration over control, of openness and accessibility. He encouraged all in attendance to ask, “what capacities would be unleashed if we were equal?”, and to publicly commit to diversity on a consistent basis. A diversity road-map must be more than a document on a shelf, Smith explained, “to me, paper is paper. It’s how it’s used” that matters.
Presentations continued throughout the day, with speakers from Craft NB, Studio Magazine, and the Inuit Art Foundation discussing how they reach the public through collaborative practices. José Niaison of the Canada Council for the Arts shared an in depth look at the new system for application to funding programs on the national level. Representatives from WorkinCulture, the Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador, and the Alberta Craft Council explored ways to increase value in membership, also through collaborative efforts.
Each presentation delved into new and interesting ways to connect across existing boundaries, effectively breaking down geographic, cultural, and economic barriers, helping delegates to see new ways they can increase access to and for craft communities.
Outside of the public presentations, the CCF/FCMA Board of Directors met, as did the regional leaders of the Provincial and Territorial Craft Councils. Both groups discussed successes and challenges, ideas and tools, providing a valuable space for idea generation and resource sharing. Both groups will continue to meet throughout the year, extending the value of the conference beyond these two days.
Intersections & Interconnexions broke outside the walls of meeting rooms as well, as delegates visited galleries, schools and studios as part of the Craft Bus Tour. With behind the scenes tours of the Art Gallery of Burlington, Sheridan College‘s craft studios and gallery, Carnegie Gallery and Scott Barnim‘s ceramics studio and shop.
During the closing ceremonies of the conference, 42 members of the craft community came together at the Craft Community Social to celebrate the recipient of the 2017 Robert Jekyll Award for Leadership in Craft, Charllotte Kwon. Recognized for her work in Canada and abroad, promoting the textile arts, Kwon was unable to attend the event in person, but provided a beautiful video acceptance of her award, which we will share online in the weeks to come.
In the days that followed the Intersections & Interconnexions conference, many delegates extended their stay to attend the opening of the inaugural Canadian Craft Biennial at the Art Gallery of Burlington, an excellent exhibition of contemporary fine craft from across the country. A two day Symposium followed, with speakers and panelists from across Canada, showcasing a broad variety of craft practices and theories. It was a pleasure to align CCF/FCMA activities with this new program, which animated the craft discussion in new and interesting directions.
The CCF/FCMA would like to thank our many partners and sponsors who contributed to the conference, including Assurart, Airways Transit, the Nunavut Economic Developers Association, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Art Gallery of Burlington, and Teed Saunders Doyle & Company. Thank you also to everyone who attended the events, for sharing your positive energy and ideas, and helping to contribute to the growth and advancement of Canadian contemporary fine craft at large.