Art Place

Expect the unexpected: concluding thoughts with Karen Balcome

Karen Balcome

May 11, 2016

How would you describe your overall experience with Art Place?

Working on this Art Place project was an incredible learning experience for me as an artist and facilitator. I was able to make new connections and learn about how my creative process works in a different context and how I can continue to explore and redefine that process when engaging with different communities.

What are some of the most significant things you’ve learned through out your project?

  • expect the unexpected
  • meet people where they are at
  • think on your feet
  • there are stories everywhere/performance happens all the time

How was your project a success?

As an artist engaging with a new community through this project, I gained new tools and perspectives for how to approach my creative process. I got to meet a group of funny, strong, smart, talented and sensitive youth who will continue to shape my idea of the strengths, skills and personalities that make up the city that I live in and inspire the work that I create. From our process together, I experienced the youth engage not only with me as a new person in their community, but also with my ideas as a new element in their space. Over a very short period of time, these youth have built a sense of trust and comfort in the drop-in program and its role in their lives. As they began to extend this trust and comfort to me and my role as an added dimension within this program, we created a valuable community building experience.

What do you intend for audiences to see, experience, and think about when learning about your project?

I would like audiences to think about their own experience of youth. If they are older, I hope that learning about this project gives them an opportunity to think about what they wish they knew as a youth that they know now, and what knowledge or outlook from their teen years they wish they could still access in their current experience. For teen audiences, I hope they can empathize with the youth’s process and concerns and be inspired by their creativity and expression. In general, I would hope audiences could share in this process of different groups of people coming together; that they too can experience new learning about a community they may not have known, and new learning about themselves through this engagement.

In what ways did or will the community benefit from your project?

The drop-in program that our project sat within is a new initiative in the community and this was their first experience integrating an arts process in that programming. Through this project, the community organizers gained an in-depth knowledge of how to approach arts programming with this community of youth and how to offer alternative experiences within the drop-in program.

In your opinion, what did the participants learn from the project?

Through different exercises and experiences, the project offered the youth tools for communication and problem solving, and helped to further their self-confidence and teamwork skills. As a process made available to them and their ideas, the Art Place project reinforced that they are interesting, creative individuals worth engaging.

Did the participants feel that arts and culture offerings are physically, financially and/or geographically accessible to them? Did participating in this project change this?

The youth attend and participate in a variety of arts and culture offerings through their school programming. On their own time, they engage in diverse pop culture experiences that play a significant role in their cultural lives. At one point during the project, I tried to connect the youth with a local cultural opportunity but schedules and geography became a challenge. I learnt that it was more accessible for them to participate in a cultural experience through the drop-in program, at a time and location that they already chose and could access as part of their daily lives.

Thanks for sharing / Merci d’avoir partagé!

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