Culture Days and National Broadcast Partner CTV (Bell Media) invited Canadian journalism and media students to participate in a Student Reporter and Media Internship program during the Annual National Congress on Culture in Edmonton, Alberta on May 7 and 8, 2015. Five lucky students participated in this innovative program including a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the CTV Newsroom in Winnipeg and a once-in-lifetime mentoring session with Marci Ien, co-host of CTV's Canada AM.
See more of the results of the interns’ work at: http://culturedays.ca/blog/2014/05/31/national-congress-culture-day-one-student-perspective/#sthash.WUbCWlfY.dpuf
The host of the 2015 National Congress on Culture is excited to be a part of the annual event—and it shows. Gillian Smith loves working with and being inspired by these storytellers and artistic leaders because their livelihoods come directly from their passions. She been a part of Culture Days almost since its inception, serving in many different capacities—hosting the Congress for a second time and sitting on the national board. Smith believes in active and engaged citizenship, so it only makes sense that she made her way to Edmonton from Toronto to celebrate the wealth of stories that these cultural innovators bring. As the Vice President of Memberships for the Toronto Region Board of Trade, Smith volunteers in the art sector and engages with many forms of art, admiring photography, dance, and visual art.
"I'm a terrible artist in my own right, but what that's made me is a wonderful appreciator of art," Smith says, with a smile. "The arts are one the best ways that you can engage citizens in their communities."
But there are challenges to this, like not having early exposure to arts, that prevent people from being enriched by artistic endeavours.
"Either they haven't had the chance at home to learn...or increasingly, there aren't enough programs in our public schools...so the arts have become remote, distant, and a bit scary," Smith explains. "It's so important that we make sure the arts are accessible to all so that not only do we nurture that human vitality and creativity...but then we're building our next generations of arts leaders, donors, patrons, and volunteers."
Smith says it's crucial for future generations to be inspired by previous generations and learn how they benefited from arts education, training, or attending an arts function.
"These are all very human experiences that are meant to be shared by all of us," Smith says.
It's difficult at the beginning to engage people in the arts, with Smith usually hearing things like "I don't have any time" or "I don't have any money." However, once they understand the full scope of what there is to learn from the arts in their community, it gets easier, Smith says. "Then it's the easiest job in the world."
There are benefits, once the challenges of engagement are overcome.
"Your time is so incredibly well-spent and you can have a wonderful experience in the arts without spending a fortune," says Smith. "It's so important for people to understand what experiences they can have and they can pass on to their friends and family by getting exposed to the arts and becoming active participants in the arts."
What does Smith hope for arts engagement in the future?
Convergent realities. The disruption that new technology brings, keeps us "cloistered in our homes." If we can break through that barrier, then it will demonstrate that "engaging with the arts, living with other human beings, is an essential way to connect and live a fuller, more fabulous life."
With her positive outlook, Smith is concerned but thinks we can become engaged and overcome the technology that's keeping us in our homes.
Smith wants a "bigger, better, more vibrant, more vital" Culture Days. "It's one of the best ways and accessible ways that Canadians from all walks of life can get to experience arts and culture in Canada."
"If just that little taste inspires them...to learn something about the arts, then it's time well-spent. If we can do our best to bring [arts and culture] to as many Canadians as possible, then I'm all for it, I'll do whatever I can to help."
This is why she is a part of Culture Days. It's all because "arts are really what makes a community."
- Share This