Community-based/grassroots arts, transnational culture and creative practice, multiculturalism and gender discourse in Korean media
Understanding the structures and practices of Toronto-based asian diasporic grassroots community arts organisations to re-examine and reframe institutional ‘community arts’ definition
Community arts has been an integral part of national arts policies in Canada. On an institutional level, community arts is defined as a collaborative engagement between professional artists and under-represented communities, which involves social work practices to foster social inclusion. This understanding of community arts aligns with the national discourse of promoting diversity and is echoed by many arts institutions and not-for-profit organisations. However, it does not represent the work of grassroots community arts happening within the Asian diaspora in Toronto. The current system that govern community arts has brought various challenges for individuals working in grassroots community arts, or small-scale community arts organisations, including limited funding opportunities, denigrating perception of their work and expected trajectory to professionalize.
This study aims to scrutinise the institutional definition of community arts by examining small-scale community arts organisations that focus on the Asian diaspora to reframe the definition that is more inclusive of diverse practices and structures. Four Toronto-based organisations were chosen as case studies: Tea Base, a community arts space with a focus on young, queer Asian communities; Tamil Archive Project, a collective for the Tamil community; Diaspora Express, a collective for the Southwest Asian and North African community; and Project 40 Collective, a collective for the pan-Asian community. Their mission, organisational structure, financial model, and definitions of community arts were gathered. Through interviews and content analysis, this study discovered that the four organisations defined community arts as necessity, accessibility and resistance, which are also descriptors that define their practice. They have a strong people-centric focus, flexible organisational structure, and resistance to conventions. The four organisations have shown that their community arts is distinct from the institutional understanding and that they are building a new praxis with their own language and agency.
2016 – 2020
Project 40 Collective
2017 – 2019
Native Earth Performing Arts