On Saturday June 20, from 10am - 6 pm, I think something can start.For few years I've imagined a big meeting of people involved in performance in Toronto. I imagined this meeting because I don't really know many of you (no matter what Facebook says), and I especially don't know what problems you have that I might be able to help with and which problems of mine you solved years ago or at least might have some words of advice for me. Or what good times we might have if we spent some time together. I want to get out of the silos that I too frequently find myself in – I imagined a meeting because I suspected I wasn't alone in feeling this.
And I'm tired of panels and professional meetings that, while important and useful, don't feel nearly as lively as the people attending them.
So it is with great pleasure and hope that I'm writing to invite you to the first Un-Conference on the Future(s) of Toronto Performance
This is a chance for theatre, dance and performance-based artists, administrators and supporters to set the agenda and have the conversations that matter most to you. A chance to meet, in a meaningful way, new people and actually talk with the people you might see all the time but never actually sit down with.
It is a potential space for something special to happen – to get together and meet. And meeting helps.
Space is limited so please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below the fold is some more writing on the event.
Also – if you forward this post to the people you also think should be there – that would be great. There are people I don't know, who you do, and I'd like to meet them and hear what they, and you, have to say about the future(s) of Toronto performance.
Feel free to ask any questions in the comments
Right Here, Right Now: an Un-Conference on The Future(s) of Toronto Performance
Saturday, June 20, 2009, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., $10 including lunch - Reception to Follow
A one day meeting of Toronto's groundbreaking professional artists, arts workers and arts leaders to talk about the future(s) of performance practice and our city's stages. Facilitated by Trampoline Hall's Misha Glouberman using techniques drawing from open-space technology and world cafes (the "Un-" denotes a conference with no panels, guest-speakers or pre-determined outcomes), the agenda is crafted by participants and the issues on the table are the ones you want to talk about. All who have stake in the evolution of performance are encouraged to attend to strategize, explore and identify what we can do right now to address our most challenging and exciting opportunities.
Want to know more? What is an Un-Conference anyway?
This is what it is:
A one day “un-conference” to talk about the future(s) (as many as we want).
On a first name basis, with an agenda proposed and finalized when we arrive, anything anyone cares enough about will be up for discussion in groups large and small, records will be kept and distributed, lunch and maybe a drink or two will be had. It will all be facilitated by the wonderful Misha Glouberman, using “un-Conference” methods and approaches that are changing the way people gather and make change in the technology sector and, now, far beyond.
On this day, we will gather to speak as individuals and artists who care and take responsibility for the forms we work in, without the pressure of representing the organizations we may work for or work with. To speak in order to help each other solve problems. Big problems (the ethics of contemporary performance) or smaller problems (best place to buy good cheap paint.)
To look at big problems by solving small ones. Not to complain about the things we spend so much time complaining about but taking a proactive approach to conversation that focuses on what we can do right here, right now.
Where and when? Saturday June 20, 2009 10 am - 6 pm (with evening celebrations) $10 (lunch included) The Canadian Stage Company - Berkeley Street Theatre -26 Berkeley Street Part of the Canadian Stage Company’s Festival of Ideas and Creation< In association with Dancemakers and Small Wooden Shoe.
Who? You. Those who care about the future(s) of Toronto performance. Artists, Arts Workers, Arts Advocates.
We want this to be big and broad. To move past lip service to the diversity of Toronto’s performance scene. To be in a room and look around and be rocked by the meeting of difference.
The agenda is set by those who are present, by the people who care and take responsibility. So its really important that YOU are in the room.
As well – tell us who should we make sure is there, or invite them yourself by forwarding this email!
Why the future? By focusing on the future we look to what we, in the room, can change. What is possible next, if we do something different now. Where might we want to go – as artists, as people who care about performance. What questions can we ask, and answer when we’re all in the same room. What problems can we solve by talking together.
It’s perhaps too easy to get caught in old separations or past perceived indiscretions. And they are important to acknowledge – to discuss so that they don’t happen again in the future. But it is the future we look to.
Why performance? Performance is a broad term. And that’s important. It’s important to know that for all our needed and valuable differences, there are some things that could get better if we talked, some things we might have to learn from each other. Things that performance artists have to talk about with theatre folk and stuff they both want to chat about with dancers.
And because, with the economic crisis and etc etc, it’s rare that we get to meet and talk about performance itself, and the creative decisions, structures and opportunities we have to expand our practice and our methods. And that meeting and talking could be very important.
Why Toronto? Toronto is a big city. This is so obvious as not to need to be said. Except it does. Because we think it’s a small world.
Especially for those of us who make performances of any kind.< It is a very very small world. And yet it’s a big city. And so, in a small world in a big city, We don’t meet each other.
We find ourselves, despite ourselves, in silos.* And it’s not malevolent or even intentional. Toronto is a big city. And it’s a busy city.
But perhaps this is not the way to look forward. Looking forward might need many people in one room talking about the things they care most about. So it would be good to meet. Good to take one day to come together. And talk about the futures of performance, as a form, not an industry, in Toronto. To try and help and be helped by sharing space and time.
Why a meeting? Meeting each other and talking can be an end in and of itself. We need to meet those we don’t yet know, and talk again with those we think we know well. To break assumptions and find what we can offer each other. We meet to bring together communities that don’t often share space, despite sharing so many concerns. The potential for creative chemistry is vast when people come together in the same room to share curiosity, passion and responsibility. And by looking at problems we are striving to solve, we think we will find new perspectives and new solutions. And, at the very least – you’ll know more about what’s going on in the places you are sometimes to busy to go to, or perhaps have never really been to at all.
*”Since, for example, I work mostly through Buddies, Theatre Passe Muraille and the Theatre Centre, I don’t know what’s going on at Factory, fu-gen, Soulpepper, Obsidian and on and on. Since I work at Dancemakers, I don’t know Pro Arte Danza. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.” says Jacob Zimmer. And we think he is right.
Misha Glouberman is a facilitator and designer of highly participatory events. He’s hosted panels, discussions, and events with health care workers, transit activists, professional dancers, homeless parents, Open Source software advocates, graffiti artists, Copyright experts, and Star Trek fans, to name just a few.
His approach to conference design draws especially on Open Space Technology, and the UnConference approach, both methods of conference design meant to get people talking to each other and sharing ideas quickly and effectively, in a highly decentralized model. His working style combines analytic rigour (he worked for many years as a database designer, and has a degree in philosophy from Harvard College) with a creative people-centered approach (he has taught classes in improvised music and theatre for many years).
Misha’s interest in how people connect with each other also extends into work he does as a performer and artist. He hosts “The Trampoline Hall Lectures”, an interactive show popular with the arts and literary set in Toronto and New York, as well as “Terrible Noises for Beautiful People”, a series of participatory sound events for non-musicians, among other projects. He believes himself to be Canada’s foremost charades instructor, a claim which has thus far gone unchallenged.