With the new POSTSCRIPT patio Generator, Toronto Fringe and The TENT Program brought a new round of #UrgentExchange. The twitter crowdsourced topic was Precarity + Mental Health = :( and the topic Generator, Toronto Fringe and The TENT Program sourced was The New Faces of Criticism.
On July 10, 2018 we held our crowdsourced Precarity + Mental Health = :( #UrgentExchange. Representatives from Artist Health Alliance, Artist Health Centre, Dancer Transition Resource Centre, Workman Arts, and AFC met with artists to talk about to the precarity of our sector and how most artists are left with negative impact on their mental health. With a solid turn out of 30+ people on a Tuesday evening, we began brainstorming as if we were on the playground. Below are some pictures of what was brainstormed by the group:
Afterwards we gathered in one large group and discussed what came up in the brainstorming session. We discussed how we can take better care of ourselves, such as making our rehearsal spaces safer and breaking down these impractical normalities we have in our sector such as being busy is good and to suffer is to make great art. Money, uncertainty, and success were the most common topics being discussed regarding the mental health of artists.
At the end, all representatives from the organizations present went over some of the resources they provide. All of those will be compiled at ArtistProducerResource.com next month.
On July 13, 2018 The New Faces of Criticism #UrgentExchange was held at POSTSCRIPT. This event was ASL interpreted. Generator’s Performance Criticism Training Program and U of T Criticism Course both coordinated and facilitated by Toronto Star’s Karen Fricker and Carly Maga, the city has been gaining some new emerging voices in the performance criticism scene.
The #UrgentExchange began with break out groups where participants led by facilitators began brainstorming a future criticism. Karen Fricker led a breakout group discussing “Embedded Criticism” which is a “behind the scenes” way of approaching criticism that isn’t about analyzing/judging a piece of performance but more about following creative process. The notes from that discussion are here. Carly Maga facilitated a breakout group discussing the current landscape of performance criticism in Toronto, touching on some of its strengths and weakness, and what an ideal landscape would look like in the future. The notes from that discussion are here. Shay Erlich, who completed Generator’s Performance Criticism Training Program, facilitated the discussion of criticism is Disability Art. A fourth group which included graduates of our Performance Criticism Training Program, discussed the future of criticism.
At the end, the whole group came together to discuss what needs to change in the the criticism landscape right now to make a better future for artists and critics. A point that was touched on was doing research as a critic, to make sure facts and details are correct to accurately write with nuanced critique. Good questions came up such as:
Can we use theatre criticism to work against an existing system/use writing to challenge a system?
How should accessibility play into theatre criticism? How do we deconstruct "able body" as "neutral body?"
Are actors comfortable with a critic in rehearsal?
How can we move past land acknowledgements and integrate our lived colonial experience into theatre reviews, which are usually cis male dominant spaces?
Do you have to be a critic to have influence? Or can you build up your own following? How can we make criticism accessible?
How has the rise in online journalism affected arts coverage and criticism?
Both #UrgentExchanges at 2018 Toronto Fringe ran for 1 hour and 30 minutes, which was not enough time for either topics to be discussed but both events were a great jumping off educate ourselves and make change for the future.