Man wearing virtual reality headset

Recap of the Arts in a Digital World Summit

June 30, 2017
Photograph by PurePerception

Getting set to launch a new fund

Last Spring, the Canada Council for the Arts invited the arts and culture community to Arsenal, a contemporary art gallery in Montreal, to participate in a national summit on the Arts in a Digital World.

The Summit was an important first step in encouraging, contemplating and considering how the community can take collective action around digital transformation. The next steps are up to artists and organizations. The Canada Council will provide assistance and support for digital initiatives with the new $88.5-million Digital Strategy Fund, from 2017-2021, accepting its first applications next fall. Stay tuned—the Canada Council will reveal more details about this Digital Strategy Fund in the next few weeks.

Collage of speakers
Photos : PurePerception

Missed the Summit?  Want to refresh your memory on some of the key themes of the Summit? 

You can now listen to these inspiring Summit speaker videos:

  • Simon Brault, Canada Council for the Arts Director and CEO, delivers a manifesto for the arts in the digital era, calling for mobilization and instilling a sense of urgency in the community. Watch Simon Brault’s talk
  • Sylvie Gilbert, Director of the Digital Strategy Fund, describes the principles, goals, components and other features of the Digital Strategy Fund. Watch Sylvie Gilbert’s talk
  • Ana Serrano speaks on behalf of the Summit’s advisory committee about the “attention economy”, digital “human” rights and how virtual reality affects our understanding of what it means to be human. Watch Ana Serano’s talk
  • Jackson 2bears, multimedia artist and cultural theorist, approaches digital from the standpoint of Indigenous arts and culture, and highlights the dangers of reproducing colonial spaces and codes and the importance of creating a just future. Watch Jackson 2bears’s talk
  • Sylvain Carle, owner of Real Ventures, reflects on the moment digital became the norm. Having fallen into the world of digital when he was young, he paints a clear picture of the “wirearchy” (network insubordination) and the need to rethink how we interact, have clear intentions for our actions, and consider giving back to others. Watch Sylvain Carle’s talk.
  • Astra Taylor, writer, documentarian and organizer, begins her presentation by saying “democracy may not exist, but we’ll miss it when it’s gone”. She clearly captures the true meaning of the digital community and its problematic nature, the necessity of network access to our subsistence, the voracity of online marketing and the need for data privacy. She concludes by inviting participants to imagine how they could “occupy” the internet with clear creative intention. Watch Astra Taylor’s talk
Collage of speakers
Photos : PurePerception

Participant feedback and comments

After the Summit, we asked participants to reflect on the experience and next steps. Here are the main takeaways:

Summit content  

  • The speakers were the best part of the Summit for over 80% of respondents and human libraries for close to 70%.

The Human Libraries were amazing; definitely the section where I got the most useful/practical information to take back to my workplace.

Summit networking and interactions

  • Interactions with participants from different provinces and arts disciplines added value to the Summit for more than 93% of all respondents.
  • Some participants found it difficult to clearly articulate everything and wished they could have had more time for one-on-one networking and discussion.

I wish it could have been longer, perhaps a week so that we could have spent more time together in formal and informal situations.

The level of expertise in the room was phenomenal and I just wished I could have had more time to engage with more people.

Post-Summit intentions  

  • Most of the participants expressed the desire to collaborate with people they met at the Summit in the future.
  • Becoming “ambassadors” and bringing back info and messaging from the Summit to their communities was something important for many participants.

It might be interesting/productive to host a smaller, follow-up summit by application where participants who were very heavily engaged in the first Summit could reconvene and continue to work on ideas/solutions/initiatives.

Media coverage

Tagged As Digital Events