digital literacy for the arts

Last week I attended the Arts in a Digital World Summit in Montréal. The event launched the four-year funding program of $88.5 million aimed at amplifying “the quality, scale and sharing of Canadian art through digital technology”. One aspect of this fund that gives me confidence is the desire to fund many small projects of around $10,000 and also the willingness to invest in risky projects. Given the complexity of the challenge, using a probe-sense-respond approach only makes sense.

The presentation by Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform, was a highlight for me. Astra stated that the digital advertising model, which is the force behind platform capitalism, only reinforces economic inequity. She urged the audience to ‘occupy the internet’ especially since artists are those with the power to change society.

I facilitated a workshop entitled the arts in perpetual beta. While this was one of the smallest workshops I have hosted, with about 6 people per session, the depth of experience and knowledge of the participants was profound. As an invitation-only event, attendees represented the breadth of Canada. Everyone I met was positive, in spite of the difficult post-blizzard conditions. I learned much from the participants and the artists I interviewed to inform my workshop: Simon Heath, Doug Shaw, Stephen Scott, Jon Claytor, as well as my wife Andrea who is graduating with her Bachelor of Fine Arts this Spring.

One common theme during the summit was the need for digital literacy. This is something I can help with. I could take my PKM Workshop and modify its design to focus on the needs of artists. If any artists are interested in collaborating on such a project, please contact me. I might also conduct a workshop solely for artists, if there is enough demand, and then make modifications based on their feedback. Perhaps we could even submit a grant proposal to the Canada Council when the fund opens this Fall.

The Arts in Perpetual Beta Workshop: Photo by @ellacooper

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