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What could I have done differently?

July 3, 2011

While many positives emerged from the four week-long series of participatory art-making sessions, there were also a few hiccups. For example, the project took place at a very busy time of year: not only were students heading back to school, but the city was in the thick of a municipal election. And despite the fact that many of the issues raised through SUSO were relevant to the concerns of a broad range of citizens, it was often difficult for people to find time to participate if they were campaigning on behalf of candidates. There were still many active participants, but I wonder what it might have been like if life was a little less hectic, and more people had been able to return to realize projects that were initiated in principle.

On that note, the pace of the project was also somewhat harried. It had been my hope, as curator, to keep the blog updated on a daily basis in sync with the project itself, but I admit that with fewer volunteers than expected to help with the promotion and day-to-day administration of the project, made other tasks more pressing. That said, at least everything did run smoothly, so in the end, I suppose it’s not too bad that, at the time of writing this report, I’m still catching up with coverage of the activity of each day! In any case, it would have been quite a different experience with a little more support ‘on the ground,’ as they say.

A third consideration pertains to the original goal of the project, which was to really get outside and literally cover more territory. In hindsight, I should have found out what parts of the city participants were based in. Although it had been my hope that the projects devised collaboratively would reach out physically into areas beyond the downtown, this did not happen apart from two SVAAWAG actions in shopping areas. Were this project to happen again, I would seek out additional networking partners in advance, either through community centres or other types of locally-based organizations, to find venues for actions, or perhaps satellite planning and production sites.

Finally, those of you who regularly followed this project and the blog may recall that one of the goals was to produce an e-publication that documented and analyzed the experiences connected to SUSO in a reflective fashion. I invited four writers with different perspectives to respond to the project—a community arts administrator/coordinator, a community activist, a sociologist, and an artist—but in the end, (because so many of the writers were overextended with other activities, often including different forms of community action), only one person was able to complete her text. As such, it seemed more logical to post it here on the website than to unnecessarily go through a whole new commissioning process. Her text about the contested aspects of community arts practices is now online and can be found here. This website, now the primary repository for all that transpired through the course of this project, has been made possible with thanks to a generous donation by a local internet hosting company, http://www.newwinnipeg.net.

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