City’s indigenous artist in residence program a step towards reconciliation

Pamela Madoff believes the best way to build relationships with First Nations is with those who are directly involved in the community.

Pamela Madoff believes the best way to build relationships with First Nations is with those who are directly involved in the community.

And in an effort to do so, the City of Victoria is looking for First Nations artists as part of the first indigenous artist in residence program.

As part of the year-long program, the artist will produce a range of work, which could include an exhibition performance, publication or forum. There will also be an opportunity to create collaborative artwork with the city’s current artist in residence Luke Ramsey.

The idea for an indigenous artist in residence came from the city’s arts and public spaces committee, following the creation of the artist in residence program, which involves Ramsey working collaboratively with city staff and the community to identify and develop artwork for one or more capital projects, earlier this year.

Committee member and First Nations artist Rande Cook said the program differs slightly from the artist in residence program, in that the indigenous artist will be able to create any form of art.

“It’s completely open. They could be tapping into theatre, they could be tapping into performance art, they could be tapping into visual art. It’s up to the artist,” Cook said.

For Madoff and Cook, the program is a step towards reconciliation, ahead of 2017, which has been declared the year of truth and reconciliation.

“Truth and reconciliation, there’s many aspects of it, but part of it is the visual influence of First Nations art . . . Culturally it was the right time,” Madoff said.

“We have a lot of work to do to create relationships, friendships and partnerships in a significant way and the best way to create those relationships is directly with First Nations and to have this very direct connection will just be fantastic.”

The program will begin in March, with the artist working 20 hours per week for $42,000. First Nations artists are being encouraged to submit expressions of interest and other documents to victoria.bonfirehub.ca. The deadline for submissions is Monday, Jan. 23 at 4 p.m.

There will be an information session on Monday, Jan. 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at City Hall for people interested in the program as well.

The selected artist will be contacted at the end of February.