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Vibrational Views #1

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Title: Vibrational Views

Vibrational Views is an all-new blog that will explore what wellness and the arts in the age of COVID-19 means to the Arts Ahead Team and Faculty, and provide a behind the scenes look at the planning of this year’s event. We want to give you a view into our virtual reality. We’re a group of people who have never met in real life but despite all odds have grown together into a well-oiled machine full of passion and heart for each other and the arts.

First up, meet the Co-Chairs!

Chosen by the rest of the Arts Ahead team, Ciragh Lyons & Raeburn Ferguson are leading this year’s charge to organize the first ever digital edition of Arts Ahead. As seasoned arts leaders they both bring an energy, experience, and enthusiasm to their roles that inspires the rest of the team every day. We asked them each to share with you a bit about what they’re looking forward to from this year’s event and what the theme Vibrations: Arts, Wellness & the Search for Balance means to them. Now enough from us, we’ll let them take it from here…

Meet Ciragh!

As an uptight English woman, it’s hard for me to express my emotions at the best of times. Okay, I’m not entirely uptight but I’m guarded. I use my work as a way of diffusing my stress and anxiety but that was abruptly taken away from me and a lot of people in 2020. How can I release this pent-up frustration and unease when my major outlet is removed? The arts, that’s how.

Arts Ahead this year is focusing on the theme of Vibrations: Arts, Wellness & the Search for Balance and during this time this is something that we have all been looking for, consciously or not. I’ve turned to the arts to keep me grounded. The arts have been my one constant during these times. Sometimes I’ve been consuming art created by others – there is only so much Drag Race a person can access! I’ve even taken the plunge into my own artistic endeavours – creating dystopian comics posing Barbies. These interactions with the arts have allowed me moments of stillness and controlled chaos. When you feel like you have no control, the arts provide ways for you to express that concern or escape from it.

That’s the balance I need to protect my wellness.

Another element of my wellness involves being busy. Here’s an idea, why not go back to school during a pandemic? When I chose Centennial College for my post graduate Arts Management course, a huge lure was the Arts Ahead symposium. I love organising events. Big or small, they are so satisfying to see through from inception to completion. However, Arts Ahead is the only event where I’ve been part of a team with so many moving parts. I was elected as Co-chair and with great power comes great responsibility! Cliché but true.

As Co-chair I get to work with all our Teams; Marketing, Programming, Development and Operations, and seeing them in action. Watching everyone adapt to the needs and constraints of the event has been inspiring. I’ve been enjoying working through the logistics and the behind the scenes of the event. Enduring bad presentations of online platforms, sourcing dynamic speakers and workshops, finding partners, launching social media campaigns, the list goes on. For a two-day event, nobody except the Teams will truly understand the extent of the work that went into it, but that’s exactly what we want!

Being part of a large event like this fulfils many needs for me, but especially, bringing people together. To grow a community for artists and arts workers where they can share their experiences, make connections and learn ways to manage their own wellness is the legacy I hope this symposium leaves behind.

Next, let’s hear from Raeburn!

One of the main reasons I was interested in this program was the very practical nature of the course offerings, the main one being producing a live event. What better way to learn about the various roles in arts management than by doing.

As we all know this year has been unique and we are unable to do an in-person event but, honestly, that’s the part I am most looking forward to. This is a new and unique opportunity that has made many of us think differently about how we can engage with one another and how we consume art as a whole. I think this new reality has opened up some incredible opportunities for us to connect with individuals beyond our normal sphere, which allows for so many new voices and for more people to join the conversation. I have enjoyed this challenge of learning how to produce an event that is happening all virtually, and what’s even better is that the entire cohort is working together to figure out this new way of working. What better way to prepare ourselves for the world we are about to enter.

The theme, Arts, Wellness & the Search for Balance is so multi-faceted and has so many layers to it, which is why I think it works so well. The part that resonates with me the most is really “the search for balance”. We are always searching for balance in every aspect of our lives, but when you take the thing you are passionate about and make it into your career it is oftentimes very difficult to find balance. Throughout my career, I have learned it is hard to say “no”, it is hard to take a break for fear that someone else might take your place, it’s hard to not answer your emails past 5 pm… especially these days when we’re all working from home.

There is also a strange expectation that when you are an artist you should be able to give your work for free or in exchange and there is a truth to some of this. Volunteering is amazing and beneficial; it is wonderful to give your time and gift to good causes or for a unique opportunity. However, there comes a time when you have to strike the balance in this as well. All of these are things I have learned the hard way and I think more than ever we need to start taking care of our artists and each other. That is where this whole idea came from –

Perhaps sparked by the pandemic and fuelled by what’s happening in our industries, but the issues have been around since far before 2020. I hope that our event and others like it will start a new trend of talking about wellness and how we can integrate it into our daily lives more effectively.

To learn more about our Co-Chair’s backgrounds, you can read their bios here.

Tickets for ARTS AHEAD 2021 – Vibrations: Arts, Wellness & the Search for Balance are ON SALE NOW.

Stay tuned for more Vibrational Views coming your way soon!

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