The Arts and Social Change
Introduction to Spring 1986 issue of the Connexions Digest (Volume 10, Number 1)

There has been a re-awakening of the arts in Canada in recent years. Theatre groups have sprung up in small communities and in large cities. New art and photographic galleries display the previously neglected works of women, native people, prisoners and working people. Video has given us a new window on the world. Many groups are making use of the arts to stimulate people’ s imaginations so they can be aware of the world and see what needs to be changed.

Art in North America has generally been enlisted on the side of the personal and individualistic. Our society has made a cult of outcast artists and thus has effectively marginalized them. But now, groups of artists, outraged by the injustices of our society, are creating new bridges of trust between themselves and the communities where they live.

This issue of Connexions will introduce you to some of these groups who are attempting to expand our visions of the world. Theatre Parminou of Victoriaville, Quebec is touring Canada from coast to coast with a play demonstrating how nations can live peaceably together. Positive Image is a group of women in Edmonton who create photographic exhibitions of women of “ all sizes, shapes and colours” to counter the negative images of women portrayed in advertisements and pornography. Another Weigh collective in Toronto makes videos examining the injustices in our prisons. These and other listings describe a wide variety of groups from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island that are using the arts for social change.

We hope that the groups and resources listed in this issue of Connexions will be useful to others who are seeking new ways to portray their messages and to dramatize injustice and spark discussion. Canada is a big place and it’ s hard to keep tabs on everything that is going on. If your group is using the arts for social change and we've missed you, please drop us a line telling us about yourselves and we’ ll include you in the next issue.

Related Topics: Aboriginal ArtArtist-Run CentresArtistsThe ArtsArts AdvocacyCommunity ArtsPhotography/ArtTheatre