Through art, we can take a stand for our beliefs and contribute to something larger than our individual selves. In the context of community, the arts can help us come up with creative solutions to the difficult social problems we face.”
-Beginner’s Guide to Community Arts by Keith Knight and Mat Schwarzman
Image by Condé / Beveridge created for The River
Community Arts is a term which evolved in the late-1960s and generated a movement which grew in the United States, Canada, the UK, Ireland, and Australia. Works from this genre can be in any art form and are characterized by interaction or dialogue with the community. GZP Edmonton defines itself within this context as producing “community-based work”. In Canada, Community Theatre has come to mean productions within the large network of amateur theatres across the country. Our work comes out of a different process.
GZP’s community-based work is focused on social inclusion, with a community oriented, grassroots approach. Members of a local community come together to express concerns or issues through an artistic process, involving professional theatre workers / facilitators. These communal artistic processes act as a catalyst to trigger events or changes within a community or even at a national or international level.
Our community-based theatre includes works made by, with, and for a community—it may refer to theatre that is created by a collaboration between community members and professional theatre artists, or to performance created entirely by professionals that reflects a particular community. It also includes providing resources and expertise to other professional groups emerging to reflect their own reality, such as the work Old Earth Theatre is doing with the Aboriginal community.
All our work reflects a process grounded in specific communities, from research through ‘show’n’tell’ presentations. In addition, Ground Zero Productions has produced one large scale pageant performed with community members, The Otonabee River Chronicles, about the history of Peterborough, Ontario.
Edmonton Community Arts Context
Edmonton was named the Cultural Capital of Canada for 2007. As part of that program, Don Bouzek acted as Community Arts Coordinator, setting up a juried process to award funds to a number of Community Arts projects.
There continues to be a wide variety of work being created in the community from wall murals to theatres such as Rising Sun, working with individuals with disabilities and the Geri-Actors, focused on older people.
Topics in Focus
GZP wants to encourage Edmonton groups working in Community Arts to network with each other. Don initiated a monthly meeting during the Cultural Capital project and many people found these sessions supportive. However, there wasn’t the resources to continue these meetings after the project ended. We hope this dialogue page will provide a bit of digital space for communication. Use the email below to send us your thoughts and we’ll post them.