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About the 2023 Conference

ACTS OF RESILIENCE is a hybrid conference instigated by Two Planks and a Passion Theatre Company. Bringing together organizations and artists dedicated to outdoor performance, this gathering is dedicated to sharing knowledge and developing new strategies related to the climate crisis. 

The conference will include sessions ranging from the practical (how are our conditions of work changing and how must we adapt?) to the high-level (how are our relationships with audiences changing and what are our responsibilities as storytellers in mitigating the crisis?). This three-day gathering will be held at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in rural Nova Scotia, and the initial strategies and ideas developed during the conference will be shared widely.

The challenges the climate crisis presents to our entire society are undeniably huge and present in every community, workspace and home. This gathering of professional performance companies who work outdoors in collaboration with nature is focussed on our specific sector and the challenges we now face, from the practical to the existential. Some of the most important are:

1) How are our conditions of work changing? What new guidelines, measurements or strategies need to be put in place in order to protect the health and welfare of theatre/performance workers?

2) How do we communicate with the general public about the climate crisis and its impacts? What does that conversation look like?

3) How does our public profile change given how closely our work is associated with nature and, by association, an existential crisis? How do we work in that new reality?

4) What are our responsibilities as storytellers and community institutions in confronting the crisis?

5) Are the changes ahead of us a matter of gradual adaptation, or is this crisis something we can’t simply adapt to?

6) Many of our stakeholders create work in geographically remote locations without public transportation. What is the true carbon footprint of our work? How can/should this be measured?

7) How will accessibility to our work be adversely impacted by the changing climate?

8) What further measures can we take to further green our organizations?

This project is a response to an emergency. We, as artists who create work in partnership with nature, are overwhelmed by both the immediate impact of the climate crisis, and grappling with the longer-term ramifications for our relationships and communities. We must work together to share experiences, develop strategies and ask uncomfortable questions.

Key Note speakers included:

shalan joudry, an L’nu (Mi’kmaw) narrative artist working in many mediums. She is a poet, playwright, podcast producer, oral storyteller and actor, as well as a cultural interpreter. Her unique specialty is performing for audiences around a campfire. 

In 2016 shalan graduated with a Master of Environmental Studies from Dalhousie University and was nominated for a Governor General Gold Medal award for her thesis work on Mi’kmaw ways of knowing about fire on the land. In her role as a conservation ecologist, shalan uses Two-eyed Seeing methodologies to ground mainstream ecologists into L’nu cultural perspectives to work more effectively together on conservation programs. shalan, along with her partner, Frank Meuse, facilitates eco-cultural and ecological professional development workshops in a forest retreat within her home community.

David Maggs, carries on an active career as an interdisciplinary artist and researcher focused on arts, climate change, and sustainability. David is the artistic director of the rural Canadian interarts organization Gros Morne Summer Music (gmsm.ca), and founder and co-director of the Graham Academy. He initiated and co-produced the CBC doc channel film The Country along with leaders from Newfoundland’s Mi’kmaw community, exploring the Canadian government’s handling of Indigenous identity in Newfoundland.

As a fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School for Global Affairs, David co-authored Sustainability in an Imaginary World (Routledge Press, 2020) with mentor and long-time collaborator John Robinson, exploring the relationship between art and sustainability. He is former senior fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Sustainability in Potsdam, Germany, where he led work on culture and climate change. As Innovation Fellow with the Metcalf Foundation, David wrote Art and the World After This (2021), an extensive report on the disruption and transformation of the arts in the wake of COVID-19. The impact of this report has led to the creation of a new position within the Metcalf Foundation and as the inaugural Fellow on Arts and Society, David is exploring the role of art in society, with particular focus on innovation, climate change, and cultural policy. 


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