The last week has been hard.
It reminded us that there are so many people around the world who do not get the opportunity to feel safe. We want to extend our deepest sympathies to the friends and families of the victims in the Orlando shooting, and our deepest anger at the complex reality that allowed this killing to occur.
You, like us, might be overwhelmed by the media coverage of this shooting, and outraged by how it has been co-opted by some in racist political rhetoric. These headlines are important, because they can simplify a story that is not simple.
When you have the space, please consider deepening this conversation about the identities of the victims, the race of the victims, hatred for the LGTBQ+ community, gun control, masculinity, the personal history of the shooter, and what meaningful way we can join together to ensure that this does not happen again.
With that, we want to highlight the Queer Arts Festival (QAF), which starts today and runs until June 30th. QAF’s Artistic Director, SD Holdman, states in a message titled Orlando Furioso: “Come because you are not afraid, or because you are. You are wanted here and you are not alone.”
The programming for the QAF this year is exciting and challenging. It includes the visual art exhibition Drama Queer: Seducing social change which is leading the festival with the notion that emotion is central to the history of queer activism and that its existence in contemporary queer art is a political practice.
Those who may or may not identify themselves as part of the community targeted by violence in Orlando, will find that the history of both fighting and celebration can be seen in much of the festival content. The QAF has been moved this year to June in order to commemorate the Stonewall Riots and the enormous amount that has been accomplished by this community since June 28, 1969. We can hold those accomplishments together with the knowledge that there is still so much work to be done.
Please take this opportunity to support this vital community and question what actions we can take to end violence. Passes and tickets to events available here.
-Sydney from the Media Democracy Project
We’re changing things up,
It occurs to us (because we’re not oblivious) that there is a wealth of
cultural and media production in this city that fits with our mandate: Know
the media, be the media, change the media. Our small team want to grow to
provide space for more kinds of work to be included in Media Democracy
Days’ programming in the future, as well as ensure that we’re paying
attention to the excellent and wide-ranging voices of activists, artists,
and creators that work in the lower mainland.
If you’ve taken note over the last few months, we’ve been using this newsletter to promote some of our favourite happenings in the city, reflect on our community’s impact, and understand what it means to participate in democratic media.
In trying to keep true to our word, we’ve been working on changes to our annual conference, Media Democracy Days, that will make it a more community-focused event; but what exactly does that entail?
I attended the Community Arts Council of Vancouver’s Community Arts Unconference last week. Participants included recipients of their Community Arts Fund programming, including Hooker Monologues, Vancouver Moving Theatre, the Chinese Cultural Centre of Vancouver and more, who all shared their experiences from planning community arts projects. The most distinctive thing about being in a room with this group of people was the constant reiteration of values included in all forms of problem solving. It provided a space where help and advice, from hiring technicians to grant writing, was shared freely, with a constant emphasis on active listening, inclusivity, and mutual respect.
The best planning starts with getting together to take an inventory of what a community has, and what people can share. It’s a way to ask what we can do to build capacity and use the skills and experience that already exists to make something better.
Some of our other partners who have taken community development to heart in the form of civic engagement are OpenMedia, who have recently shared their vision and values for crowdsourcing, which you can find here. OpenMedia’s focus have been on ensuring that their work is directed by their community’s needs, and that the opinions and voices of those wanting a more democratic media system are valued and respected.
The program for Media Democracy Days will be a work in progress; it will grow and change with time. We look forward to seeing what works and what doesn’t, and we hope you join us because we’re going to need your input! Look out for more information coming soon.
– Sydney from The Media Democracy Project