In February 2019, Primary Colours partnered with SFU Woodward’s and the Talking Stick Festival, an event presented annually by Full Circle: First Nations Performance. Both we and Full Circle had closely watched the recent debates - this time in Montréal - about cultural appropriation that had once again arisen in the Canadian art system and then were reported by the mainstream media.
The Talking Stick Festival, a four-day forum - Industry Series - was held (February 22 to February 25, 2019). Indigenous artists and scholars along with performing arts presenters, arts funders, and audience members were invited to build together upon previous Industry Series events, further imagining and demonstrating the strength, significance, and resilience of Indigenous performing arts.
In our partnership approach with Full Circle, we proposed:
“ This year’s theme, Cultural Appropriation - What’s That? will elaborate the recent – and historically reoccurring – protest from Indigenous artists as they, once again, respond to careless use of Indigenous images/stories by the mainstream art world. The Industry Series will explore the many tributaries that both flow into and also out of this contested issue in order to reframe the discussion toward Indigenous artistic self-determination. To avoid the pitfall of cultural appropriation, participants – artists, artistic directors, arts presenters, arts scholars – will develop protocols that respectfully guide artistic creation and collaboration.”
We did this through a series of roundtable conversations, presentations and multiple small group discussions. In addition, we commissioned two essays in response to the event.
In conjunction with Full Circle and in consultation with Indigenous artists we have created a resource on cultural appropriation which features videos and texts.