Initiated in 2009, Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO) is a movement of Indigenous and racialized artists engaged in empowering the arts communities of Ontario. CPAMO seeks to open opportunities for Indigenous and racialized professionals and organizations to build capacity through access and working relationships with cultural institutions across Ontario that will result in constructive relationships with Indigenous and racialized professionals and organizations.
Through its initiatives, CPAMO has identified several challenges that are impacting the broader goal of equity and pluralism in the arts. CPAMO has convened numerous workshops, Town Halls, conducted research and issued reports on these matters. Several of these can be viewed on CPAMO’s website (https://cpamo.wordpress.com) which has documented these sessions, many of which have been conducted with CPAMO members as workshop resources and performers. CPAMO has also included art services organizations and major funders in the planning and implementation of these activities.
CPAMO is supported by Indigenous and racialized artists who are involved in theatre, music, dance and literary arts. These artists are members of CPAMO’s Roundtable and include representatives of Sampradaya Dance, Native Earth Performing Arts, Diaspora Dialogues, Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Little Pear Garden Theatre Collective, Centre for Indigenous Theatre, Sparrow in the Room, b-current, why not theatre, urban arts and backforward collective, Culture Days, Canada Council Stand Firm members, Obsidian Theatre, the Collective of Black Artists, CanAsian Dance and others. A full list of these members is at the end of this document.
With the involvement of artists from these organizations, CPAMO is working with several arts organizations to build relationships, capacities, cultural competencies and understanding of pluralism in the arts so that these organizations engage from Indigenous and racialized artists and, thereby, enable audiences across Ontario to access artistic expressions from diverse communities on a regular basis.
CPAMO works with Indigenous and racialized artists to improve their profile in the arts in Ontario. CPAMO strongly believes that its efforts will create an environment in which creative artists from Indigenous and racialized communities will be better understood by presenters for music, dance, theatre, interdisciplinary practices, visual arts and literary publishers. At the same time, CPAMO thinks it important that these artists have an understanding of the milieu in which presenters operate. It is CPAMO’s intent that such sharing and understanding will enhance the publishing and performance opportunities for Indigenous and racialized artists who, in turn, will have a better understanding of the presenting ecology. CPAMO Roundtable members are at the forefront of artistic creation in Ontario and across Canada, connecting to the histories and contemporary expressions of artists from Aboriginal, Asian, South Asian, African descent, and Latino. Combined, these artists are the vanguard of Canadian art to come.
To assist in the achievement of these goals and objectives, CPAMO undertakes the following activities:
1) Community engagement. CPAMO Town Halls are a key example of the ways it brings people together to talk about the arts and pluralism. In this format, CPAMO commissions its Roundtable members to give keynote addresses and to participate in panels or in showcase performances to illustrate the histories, arts practices, challenges and promise of diverse artistic creations. CPAMO members who have participated in this way are: Sandra Laronde, Red Sky Performance; Charmaine Headley, Collective of Black Artists; LataPada, Sampradaya Dance Creations, Brainerd Blyden Taylor, Nathaniel Dette Chorale; Ravi Jain, why not theatre; Trevor Schwellnus and Bea Pisano, Aluna Theatre;
2) Professional Development. CPAMO convenes workshops to address a wide variety of issues related to pluralism in the arts. These workshops address demographic changes, curatorial competence in the context of pluralism, resource sharing and collaboration, audience and community engagement/development, data management, fundraising and other issues. CPAMO also provides specific educational sessions to address such topics as cultural appropriation and other contemporary matters;
3) Partnerships. CPAMO believes strongly in working with like-minded partners. In this context, CPAMO has partnered with Magnetic North, CAPACOA, the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership, Community Cultural Impresarios, IMPACT 2011 and 2013, Flato Markham Theatre, alucine Latino Film Festival, Theatre Ontario and the Canadian Dance Assembly. These partnerships are usual in the form of performances, film screenings, conferences and/or workshops;
4) Research and publication. CPAMO undertakes research about key issues and strategies in the arts related to pluralism. To do this, CPAMO has worked in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Neighbourhood Arts Network, Creative Trust and the Independent Media Arts Alliance/National Indigenous Media Arts Network;
5) Artist performances and showcases. CPAMO promotes its artists through performances and showcase. In this regard, CPAMO has commissioned performances by Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, Sampradaya Dance Creations, Red Sky Performance, Kashadance, Vanguardia Dance Projects, Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts, Jasmyn Fyffe Dance, Nova Dance, the Collective of Black Artists, SedinaFiati, Pui Ming, Little Pear Garden Theatre Collective, Lua Sheyenne Productions, Roshanak Jaberi, Spy Dennome Welch, Aluna Theatre, Sheniz Janmohamed, SUN Therealsun, Soraya Peerbaye, Sashar Zarif and others.
6) Organizational development and change. CPAMO has provided advice and support on how to integrate pluralism into an arts organization. In this regard, CPAMO has worked with Community Cultural Impresarios and the Canadian Dance Assembly.
CPAMO is involved in all of these activities and is currently working across the Greater Toronto Area, in Ottawa and in Kitchener-Waterloo. CPAMO’s Project Lead has also been invited to facilitate and participate aspanelists in forums in Vancouver (Vancouver International Dance Festival) and Halifax (Prismatic Performance Festival).