Postscript to my departure

A few months ago, in August, I gave official notice to leave CPAMO. Charles, Victoria and Anita were most gracious and accepting of my decision. Though it comes somewhat later than is perhaps expected, I am writing this note, finally, for my friends and colleagues in diversity – because after CPAMO and Stand Firm (with Canada Council for the Arts), it seems worth explaining, where did I go?
Diplomacy is an Art, but a practice that was beginning to eat away at me. “You can’t do everything.”* Though I fret over “unfinished work; there’s still more to do” – with the distance of a few months between CPAMO and me – I can only say I’ve made the right decision for me at this time. As consultants, we look to artists and change-makers for inspiring practices that can be expanded into programs. Clearly, making art is another way of initiating and being the change one want to see. Art is transformative disruption. It is also so satisfying, if “short-sighted” some say, being able to witness immediate impact.
My daily practice now consists of making experiential marginalia (a kind of dramaturgy-meets-relational-aesthetics-meets-arts-animation-meets-public-engagement), hybrid puppetry (repurposing underutilized technology in the service of new theatrical experiences), writing (nonsense!), and giving away art.
CPAMO has (is) a wonderful group of colleagues engaged in voluntary and paid roles. Before leaving, I presented my colleagues there with detailed notes on initiatives and conversations that I had been developing, which CPAMO continues to consider strategically – following consultation and with your support. Among them:
  • “GOOD BUY” – a socially conscious debit and credit card transaction system that splits typical transaction processing fees between the transaction system provider and a non-profit/charitable fund of the merchant’s choice. Good Buy is interested in setting up a program whereby venue operators and larger arts organizations that process their own payments would switch to this transaction system, and a portion of the transaction fee would be given back to the equity-seeking arts community. Since transaction fees are typical, the participating merchants would not feel any kind of pinch – it would cost them nothing to give. A kind of “rising tide raises all boats” program of reciprocity: as the larger members of our community increase earned revenues, smaller equity-seeking groups would benefit from a higher “pay-out.”
  • ENGAGING CONDO COMMUNITIES – from builders to condo management to owners and inhabitants and condo corporation Boards, there are many ways of engaging new and changing condo communities in Toronto to become more involved in the local arts and culture around them. Cultural concierges, cross-condo social committees (mixers involving 3 – 5 condo buildings in a similar neighbourhood), welcome packages for new home-owners, VIP exclusive access events, etc.
  • CULTURAL BUS TOURS – building on the successes of the Mississauga Art Bus and other similar programs, and working with culture-specific tourism operators (e.g. Chinese-Canadian Tai Pan Tours), a more expansive cultural bus tour program could be initiated to bring suburban families to shows downtown. Stay-at-home moms and older citizens in the suburbs are under-serviced audience segments. Many of them may feel less comfortable with English and/or with navigating downtown Toronto by car or public transit. By offering a consistent service (ideally with a known brand such as Tai Pan Tours) that will pick up and drop off these groups and their friends at a familiar meeting place in the suburbs (e.g. an ethnic mall, community centre, local library branch, or church), the program would directly address perceived and real barriers to participation.
CPAMO recently sent out a survey to its members requesting feedback on upcoming plans / new directions. Are you a member yet? Did you receive the survey? Having just come from that side of the work, I urge you to stay in touch with CPAMO. It is very hard to keep working without hearing consistently from the community you are trying to serve. Join the roundtable discussions to listen and offer your perspectives.
Please keep in touch, with CPAMO, and with me… You can email me at inbox AT helenyung DOT com. On Twitter I am @helenyung. If you’re curious about my art, consider coming by this November 23, 24 or 25 when I will be presenting work with Dreamwalker Dance.
Thank you.
Looking forward to your next show, our next encounter!
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