In 2008, Red Sky piloted the Deep Waters Project with the Temagami Artistic Collective to respond to the challenges of Temagami, Bear Island Reserve and surrounding communities in northern Ontario.
The two main objectives of Deep Waters were as follows:
(1) the development of northern Indigenous community presenters, and
(2) the sustainability of arts presentation within northern Indigenous communities.
The project included mentorship and instruction for new presenters in First Nations communities north of Highway 17 in Ontario. Red Sky worked closely with local community groups and the newly formed Temagami Artistic Collective on the Deep Waters Project pilot.
Arts Committee Development
The individuals who were strongly committed to the arts in their community formed the arts committee Temagami Artistic Collective. This arts committee was responsible for arts presentation in the area. The schedule of workshops was determined in collaboration with the arts committee.
Cultural and Community Mapping
Red Sky conducted a cultural and community mapping workshop with the Temagami and Bear Island arts/cultural committee. The main objectives were to create a sense of community among the arts committee members and to map out the current resources and histories that will assist in arts planning.
Once the community had mapped out its current resources, they workshopped their future vision for arts in their area. This visioning exercise was limited to arts presentation, and they derived concrete goals for future arts presentation. They then connected their future goals to the current resources.
Arts Presentation Planning Workshop
After the committee had met a number of times on its own and designed plans for its arts presentation activities, the Red Sky consultant ran a workshop to refine and assist them in finalizing a plan. At this stage in the development of local presenting, the committee built self-determination into their plans and strategies. The committee began to see itself as the central body responsible for sustainable arts presentation in their community.
Grant Writing and Financial Planning Workshop
The Red Sky consultant provided a workshop on grant writing and financial planning. The consultant along with the committee workshopped the writing of grants and funding proposals applicable to the proposed project.
Event Production Assistance
Red Sky assisted the committee in person, by phone, and by email in producing the arts presentation series. The committee drove the planning and production with secondary assistance from the consultant. Red Sky provided advice, tools and labour in the production phase of the Deep Waters Project.
The Red Sky consultant and the Temagami Artistic Collective met to evaluate the entire process leading up to the arts presentation event and the event itself. The committee undertook a self-evaluation and analysis. Qualitative and quantitative data was gathered by the consultant in order to assist Temagami Artistic Collective and Red Sky in setting out performance measurements.
Results of the Deep Waters Project:
- First Nation communities in northern Ontario received increased Indigenous cultural performances and arts related programming.
- First Nation communities developed increased capacity to present events and programs in their own communities.
- First Nation youth were exposed to Indigenous arts/culture and were offered opportunities to participate in learning programs in dance, theatre, music and storytelling.
- Red Sky, and other artists and companies, had more opportunities to perform in northern communities because there is a local presenter to host events and develop audiences.
About the Temagami Artistic Collective
The Temagami Arts Collective (TAC) was founded in 2004 by Sandra Laronde and Vicky Blake in order to support the Indigenous artistic and cultural practices of the Teme-Augama-Anishnaabe (People of the Deep Water). The artists presented at the Deep Waters concert series included: Shane Yellowbird, George Leach, Murray Porter, Wayne Lavallee, Shakti Hayes, David Laronde, Allan Laronde, the Deep Waters Band, Jamie Saville, the Eight Thunderbirds, Debbie Wynne, Wayne Miller Jr, and Wayne and Ronda Potts.
The TAC has also programmed Red Sky's Raven Stole the Sunin Temagami in 2009. TAC is growing their presenting potential and has become a model for other communities in northern Ontario to grow their capacity as community presenters. TAC now curates and produces approximately 22 engagements in the Temagami community annually and also co-produces with the Temagami Canoe Festival.
Photo: Temagami, northern Ontario