The Youth Question in Arts & Culture
Justine Koroscil, Director of Administration
Through my job training and experience at artsnb, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting young art entrepreneurs and artists all over the Maritimes. In May of 2014 I attended the Canadian Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (CCSBE) National Conference which was hosted by the Centre for Entrepreneurship, Education and Development (CEED) in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. During this conference there was a day dedicated to young artists interested in becoming an entrepreneur in their field/craft. Through meeting theses young artists I realized how difficult it can be for an artist to believe in their craft and continue on to the next step when support from their community or peers is lacking.
These artists had excellent ideas and concerns about the youth question in arts and culture. For example, if you are an underage young musician with your own band, finding a venue to perform can be tricky- there seems to be a greater need for all ages venues as they can be very beneficial to artists. These types of venues allow for opportunities to connect with peers, meet other artists and foster collaborations.
The reality is there are young artists who do not know how to access these resources or even know that they exist. The Michaëlle Jean Foundation, for example, has a Youth Community Action Program that funds organizations created by youth. The program uses art to tackle issues affecting our communities and helps youth develop arts-based strategies for change. Ryan Veltmeyer and Ann Denny from Youth Art Connection (YAC) based in Halifax, NS along with CEED have worked together in offering a program for young artists called ArtPreneurs. The ArtPreneur program supports a small group of talented youth (selected by their peers) to connect with professionals, organizations and businesses in order to create products or opportunities using their creative talents. The ArtPreneur program also offers support for youth to gain employment, start their own business or pursue education in their discipline. It has already impacted many of the artists that were accepted in the program. They have made connections and are advancing in their career as artists, and some of them are not even in their final year of high school!
I’ve realized that it is becoming increasingly easier to connect to an audience and receive support from a group of peers through social media and the Internet then it is to feel supported by your own community. Gavin Sheppard, Executive Director & Co-Founder of the Remix Project which is an arts and culture incubator working with “at-risk” youth, was at this conference and provided workshops for the ArtPreneurs. His presentation at the conference was nothing short of inspiring for me. Gavin calls out to municipalities, government and organizations to engage youth in their decision making processes. He allowed me to reflect on what my personal glass ceilings are as a young artist/musician. How great would it be to have a youth movement in our country by including a young person representative on boards, committees and organizations? It may not be an easy task, but when decisions are being made about youth in our communities, wouldn’t it be great to hear from them directly?
Here at artsnb, we have a small committee called the Youth Advisory Commission on the Arts. This committee was created to advise artsnb on issues facing young artists in our province. It is my hope that with my remaining time at artsnb I can continue to pursue the work that this committee has done by inviting younger artists to be part of the committee and giving them a voice. Together we can look at issues facing younger artists in our province and provide them with the tools needed to become an ArtPreneur!