Burrard Marina Field House
Sometimes a barrier can exist between artists and the public, hindering meaningful exchange. Through interactive projects that connect artists to local communities and the social issues they feel are important, Burrard Marina Field House is making new conversations take place.
City of Vancouver, Vancouver Park Board
Art galleries can sometimes be privileged environments that remain off-limits to everyday people. When this happens, a disconnect emerges between contemporary art and the public. This represents a lost opportunity for meaningful exchanges between artists themselves and the broader community. By placing themselves in the heart of communities, and by engaging the public in creative and interactive participation projects, artists can play a role in fostering local dialogue among a diverse mixture of community voices and perspectives.
The public self-identifies themes
The Burrard Marina Field House ‘Artists in Residence’ program is dissolving barriers to participation and engagement by creating more opportunities for communities to interact with artists.
Each artist is undertaking research by listening to community about urban issues and local histories, allowing self-identified themes to emerge from public participants
Each artist is undertaking research by listening to community about urban issues and local histories, allowing self-identified themes to emerge from public participants. In addition, several artists are working in collaboration with – and as mentors to – local groups, organizations, and communities to build meaningful relationships over an extended period of time.
The works of the resident artists include a range of practical, philosophical, cultural, and conceptual ideas for collaboration on issues of local significance. Examples of these ideas include Harrell Fletcher’s multi-day hiking events in which participants lead public discussion on issues of ecological change and urban development; Keg de Souza’s experimental maps in which the public is invited to share their knowledge of Chinatown’s food culture by mapping their favourite restaurants, urban farms, and food services in the neighbourhood; and Skawennati’s digital storytelling workshops that are helping Indigenous youth learn and share cultural knowledge in new ways.
Getting out of the gallery
By collaborating outside conventional gallery spaces, the project is challenging the perception of a barrier between local artists and the public, and is serving to increase the number of people who can attend and participate in artistic and cultural offerings. This format of urban art residency is unique within Canada, and it is generating new discussions and perspectives about colonization, environmental welfare, immigration, gender and sexuality issues, and more.
Through linking artists and the public, and the practical with the abstract, the project is making art a more powerful, accessible tool to address social issues.