Evolve or Perish: Media Arts Network of Ontario meets in Ottawa

On November 15 -16, ARCA attended the Media Arts Network of Ontario (MANO) meeting titled Evolve or Perish, a title surely intended to provoke discussions on how the gathered media arts community is responding to The Canada Council for the Arts “change agenda”. The two day long symposium, organised by recently appointed MANO director Ben Donahue and event coordinator Jane Kim was introduced by keynote speaker Clive Robertson.

Overall, the symposium was informative of new developments in the media arts. Each one of the six panels offered an opportunity to examine how organisations are adapting to the evolving needs of the community in current hostile socio-economic times fueling discussions on how to collectively envisage the future of the sector. I refer you to responses posted by Vancouver based artist and cultural worker Amy Fung and by Toronto-based independent curator and writer Cheyanne Turions who captured the essence of what is/was at stake.

Just recently learning the sad news that Fuse magazine is coming to a close as a result of long term, chronic underfunding ironically embodies this exact dilemma. In the latest, and possibly last issue of Fuse, editor Gina Badger informs readers of their decision in a pared-down newsprint issue driven by the motto “Do Less with Less” borrowed from the Ladies Invitational Deadbeats Society.  I encourage you to check in on the Fuse website for unfolding details on their exit strategy. Echoing the theme of the Evolve or Perish symposium, the feature essay produced by a temporary, anonymous collective of directors and curators from active artist-run centres in Toronto, offer up some pragmatic, proactive, yet contentious suggestions on how to re-balance the sector (moving forward). Anne Bertrand, Director