Six Takeaways From the Art At Work and LLME Conferences

 "Creative architect" Dolly Hopkins speaks at a breakout session, following her keynote address at the Art At Work: Igniting Connections symposium in Richmond. On securing private funding: "Do your work, prepare yourself. Then make that cold call." | Image: Nancy Lanthier.

"Creative architect" Dolly Hopkins speaks at a breakout session, following her keynote address at the Art At Work: Igniting Connections symposium in Richmond. On securing private funding: "Do your work, prepare yourself. Then make that cold call." | Image: Nancy Lanthier.

By Nancy Lanthier

It's a busy time for professional development in the arts. I recently attended a double-header of great events, Art At Work Symposium: Igniting Connections (January 27) and LMME's Big Ideas: Museums & Momentum conference (January 29). Here are six key points I took away. 

1. Art at Work was presented by the Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond Public Art Program and CARFAC BC. The conference aimed to examine the role of community as part of an artist’s professional practice. Dolly Hopkins, the founder of Vancouver’s Public Dreams Society (Illuminares, Parade of Lost Souls) who these days calls herself a “creative architect,” championed private funding in her keynote address. Cultivating private investment takes personal and considered connection. “Do your research to discover enterprises that share your values,” said Hopkins. In Public Dream’s case, Vancity Credit Union shared its ideal of “community enhancement.” Then go to their website, "learn their language and then speak that language in your proposal." 

2. As intimidating as they may seem, Cultural Services Departments at city governments seek to “move from red tape to red carpet” when it comes to accommodating arts and culture, says Terra Dickinson, cultural and community events supervisor at City of Coquitlam. Municipalities want to reduce barriers to making cool things to happen.   

3. Just three like-minded people can start a major community event or arts organization, agreed both Hopkins and all the panelists in a session called “Networking in Creative Communities” (including Mark Busse, from CreativeMornings, Charles Latimer, from the Toast Collective and Jamie Smith, of Thrive Arts Studio).

4. Creating a community “is a muscle you train by showing up,” said Latimer.  In other words, the more you go to openings and events, the stronger at networking you become.  

5. The Lower Mainland Museum Educators’ second annual symposium drew a large crowd to hear talks on developing a strong volunteer base, collaborative educational opportunities and more. Volunteer coordinators from the Vancouver Aquarium and the Vancouver Maritime Museum said a great way to reach a youth demographic is by offering youth volunteer opportunities, and that a youth volunteer program is most effective when the youth help create it

 Ruth Sharpe of Ocean Wise says a simple myth is more powerful than an over-complicated correction. Too much information can backfire, so keep your truth message simple. |  Nancy Lanthier

Ruth Sharpe of Ocean Wise says a simple myth is more powerful than an over-complicated correction. Too much information can backfire, so keep your truth message simple. | Nancy Lanthier

6. If you want to debunk a myth to promote your higher idea, don’t keep repeating the myth, says Ruth Sharpe, of Ocean Wise. Shape uses this practice to debunk false ideas about climate change. The BC Alliance will use it to advocate the truth that arts funding is crucial for building healthy communities (and not “a frill investment” — but we didn’t say that.)

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