Panel #1 – New Models for Provincial Interaction

Many of the existing infrastructures in Ontario’s arts sector reflect a rigid and narrow focused system of operations supporting specific groups as opposed to establishing an open and welcoming environment. What new models exist and how can the existing infrastructures change to ensure they remain relevant? This panel will be appraising the existing and extensive systems in place within the province of Ontario and considering where change can occur. Challenging the status quo on equity, wages, structure, job security and as always; funding. How can independent and established arts professionals expand their networks and better support each other? How can we establish an environment that we want future generations to live within? How can the arts sector work together?

Shani Parsons

Since the mid-1990s, Shani Khoo Parsons (Canada/US, b.1970, Philadelphia) has pursued a multidisciplinary practice focused on exhibition-making, initially through the lenses of architecture and design, and most recently through research, writing, curation, and collaboration. In the process she has produced an eclectic body of work ranging from intimate artist’s books to immersive exhibitions in both large-scale institutions and smaller grass-roots independent organizations. After moving to Toronto from New York, Parsons became interested in creating a hybrid model for exhibition-making, one that provides resources for curatorial production and publishing, as well as much-needed opportunities for community building, professional development, and critical discourse. Bringing together her skills and experiences as designer, administrator, artist, curator and critic, she is building in Critical Distance a unique space for the support and advancement of curatorial practice and inquiry. With a focus on critically engaged, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary practices, underrepresented artists and art forms, and community outreach and education in art and exhibition-making, Critical Distance is a vibrant forum for the exchange of ideas on curating and exhibition-making as ways to engage and inform audiences from all walks of life.

Cass Gardiner

Cass Gardiner is an Anishinaabe Algonquin curator, artist, and storyteller. She is the co-founder of Matters Unsettled, a curatorial collective that uses the gallery to challenge preconceived notions of culture, and belonging focusing on marginalized people. Gardiner was a 2017 Emerging Curatorial Fellow at the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design (CCCD) in Asheville, North Carolina, USA. Her inaugural show with Matters Unsettled, Crafted Strangers, was at the CCCD’s Benchspace Gallery in Fall 2017. Her critically acclaimed film The Edible Indian has screened in classrooms and theatres internationally and was nominated for Best Documentary Short at the 2014 American Indian Film Festival. Gardiner holds an MFA from Ryerson University and a BA from NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

Sarah DeCarlo