What is Imagined Futures?
Imagined Futures is a project that sets out to build a digital relationship between artists and young people from Doorstep Arts, specifically, Doorstep Youth Theatre in Torbay with Antyx Community Arts in Calgary. They are a company that uses the arts and community development processes to create opportunities for youth to become more engaged in their community and experience increased community connection.
The project involves myself, Jade Campbell from Doorstep, to travel to Calgary for 10 days and then 2 artists, Stephanie and Alia, from Antyx to travel to the UK and visit Torbay. This will involve CPD, skill shares, leading sessions with young people and observing artists from each respective company.
This series of Blogs reads like a travel journal, documenting my adventure day by day.
My Trip to Calgary
On Sunday 6thOctober I set off for Calgary with an old-school suitcase and my backpack. I felt rather stressed! The night before, at 9pm, I received a text from National Express telling me that my coach to Heathrow had been cancelled and I needed to contact them to get a refund! I am an anxious traveller as it is, so this was not received well. After a grumpy ten-minute call to the sales team, I realised that I could just pick up the coach a little further down the line in Teignmouth.
The flight passed by without stress and I landed on Calgary soil at 8:30pm. My sister lives in the city and was able to pick me up and take me to her house for a rest. I was really conscious that this was a working-trip and felt it was my obligation to ensure that the money spent on me and my flight was spent well, so I scheduled my day to start at 10am the next working day. It was a bit harder to get up and get going than I would have imagined as I had underestimated the jet lag!
On the Monday, I spent a couple of jet-lagged hours with the wonderful team from Antyx Community Arts, as an introduction to them and to confirm the schedule and generally get to know them. We talked about the project plan, the week ahead and the way we all work as artists with young people.
I really struggled with the jet lag and tiredness. I attempted to hold a straightforward conversation with this wonderful team of artists. I am not 100% sure that I made any sense at all, but they politely smiled and nodded, so I felt reassured.
I feel at ease with them all, as though I had known them for a while. It was familiar and the conversations we had about young people are so relevant and relative to what we do at Doorstep Arts. The way they talk about the young people and social justice with passion is a clear indicator that they love the work they do and that its important, necessary and clearly has a positive impact.
I knew after that meeting that I had an exciting few days ahead of me.
The cultural Landscape of Calgary
During my second day I spent time meeting with other Arts organisations in the city. Firstly I met with the artistic Director of Quest Theatre, Nikki Loach. Quest creates theatre for young audiences, runs artist in residency programs in schools across the city and beyond.
In the afternoon I met with Green Fools Theatre co-founder and co-artistic Director Dean Bareham and General Manager Shelley Bareham. They gave me a quick tour of their brand-new space and we spent some time discussing the challenges and joys of working in the arts industry, finding commonalities in both the UK and Canada. You can find out more about those meetings in my blog: International Struggle.
I am very aware that there are many more arts and cultural organisations across the city, but my time was so limited and so I had to be careful not to spend my time meeting all the exiting new people and stay focused on the exchange with Antyx. The focus of working with young people was important to me and Quest Theatre were a potential partner beforehand so they were a priority.
See the next Blog post part 2 to find out more about meeting the Youth of Calgary who attend Antyx sessions.