Indigenous Art and Context in Rural Australia

Fascinating article form Arts Hub exploring how the Desert Mob Symposium is deepening the relationship between artists and audience.

Why we need context in Indigenous art

Indigenous languages in Australia do not have a directly translatable word for ‘art’. Rather than a singular act of expression, for Indigenous people art is an integral part of life, community and culture.

Click on the link below for the full article:

We’d love to get your thoughts on this article, how it could relate to rural Canada’s performing arts communities?  Please leave a comment in the section below.



ACI Manitoba – Workshop Opportunity for Rural Presenters: Webinar or Winnipeg

If anyone from Ontario’s North Far West fancies popping over the border into Winnipeg, The Arts and Cultural Industries Association of Manitoba is hosting the following workshop for Rural Presenters.

Cultural Event Management for Rural Presenters on June 16th 2017

Registration is Free for rural presenters.

For those a bit further afield you can sign up for the Webinar below.


Tomorrow’s World – Digitizing the Performing Arts

A brave new world and opportunity for rural communities. This important and extensive report from CAPACOA and Strategic Moves highlights the potential, challenges and current status of digital innovation in Canada from an Arts Presenting perspective.

Click on the link below to see the full report:

“We want equitable support for the development of digital strategies that are specific to the needs of individual organizations, artists and communities with subsequent investment to maximize digital capacity and infrastructure within arts organizations and foster the ability for organizations to connect and create communities of knowledge/communities of practice.”

The report includes useful Case Studies highlighting digital ‘Presenting’ innovations in the national and international field.

We’d love to get your ideas, reflections and questions on this fast changing world and how it relates to rural communities.  Could a holographic Tupac fill out your local township’s community centre with 90’s Hip Hop? Could the world of Semantic Markup allow us to find out what’s going on across the Province in the rural Performing Arts?  Could intelligent block booking systems help agents bring big music to small halls?  Will we all be sitting at home with our virtual reality headsets on?  What opportunities and challenges will this bring to our rural communities.

Please feel free to leave your comments below in the comments section.  If you cannot see the comments section below please click on the Title of this blog at the top of the page, the page will then reload, scroll down and you will see a box in which you can write your comments.

Please get in touch with Greg if you are still experiencing technical difficulties.


Reversing Rural to Urban Migration

An interesting story out of Greece, discussing an upsurge in young professionals returning to the land in the wake of the economic crisis:

“Alexandros isn’t alone in his thinking. For the first time in 20 years, employment in the agricultural sector has been rising, from 11 percent in 2008, a 35-year low, to 12.9 percent in 2015, according to the latest available report by the Greek Statistical Service. Almost half of all new farmers come from the cities.”

Click on the above link for the full story.

Could this happen in North America without an economic crisis being the catalyst?  Is the land calling us back? What would this look like for Urban artists looking to move back or relocate?

Feel free to add your thoughts and comments below.

Big Ideas from Small Places

Big Ideas from Small Places. That seems to hit home for so many of us…we have small spaces….but BIG ideas!

Thanks to Eric from Fergus Grand Theatre for sharing.

PROLOGUE is looking for an Executive Director

Prologue to the Performing Arts is looking for an Executive Director.


Prologue Job Posting

While the job would require living in/commuting to Toronto,  it would be great if the person coming in to the role had a solid investment in, and understanding of, performing arts and education initiatives in rural and remote communities throughout Ontario. Take a look – pass this around.  It’s a wonderful opportunity.

Firelight Lantern Festival: Sharing the Light Over Winter

We all have our differences. Different interests, different ideas, different sets of skills and talents, yet there are two things we all share. The first thing, is our desire to create artistic connections and development within our rural communities. We believe our towns and villages are jam-packed with inspirational creativity, and we need to share those skills and talents with neighbouring communities and friends.


The second thing, is our mutual hatred of the extended winter season. Perhaps I speak for everyone, but I am fairly sure we are all just “over it” by the time April rolls around, am I right?


With these two common denominators in mind, Krista Dalby of Picton, ON, decided the world needed a little more light. So for the past five years, she has been creating it.


On November 18, 2017, Picton Ontario will be celebrating their fifth annual Firelight Lantern Festival.According to Dalby, the festival is designed to symbolize the importance of creating your own light within the community, and carrying that warmth with you over the cold winter months to follow. In the months leading up the the event, Dalby and a group of other dedicated community members travel around the county, leading workshops on how to make your own beautiful lantern to light up the night sky. They travel to schools, workplaces, restaurants, and even personal homes to connect different community members, all working together towards a common goal. At this point, they can safely say that they have taught over one thousand people the tricks of the trade, and there are no signs of slowing down.


All this preparation leads towards one magical night of dream-like whimsy; with twinkling lights, colourful costumes, world-class entertainment, and beautifully hand-crafted lanterns lighting up the sky. The evening itself is breathtaking, yet Dalby says the weeks leading up to it are in actuality the highlight of the entire event. Weeks and months of community involvement, team-building, problem-solving, and further development of the arts in Picton. “Building community is goal #1,” states Dalby, “and all of our work as a community builds towards one beautiful night we can all share.”


Dalby moved to Picton from Toronto seven years ago, and was surprised that the area seemed to be lacking a model of community engagement. She attended the first SPARC symposium in 2014 and was inspired by the fact that so many people from neighbouring rural communities had a drive to be a part of something “bigger than themselves.” Dalby states her interest in discussing funding, talent, and further arts development, yet above all, she is excited to see so many like her, keen to make a difference in their communities and spread a little light.


For more information on the Firelight Lantern Festival, and to look at the beautiful pictures from previous years, be sure to check out their blog, at or check out their Facebook page Firelight Lantern Festival.


Who knows, maybe next year, if we all get together and make a lantern, this long cold winter won’t seem so long and cold after all. We all need some light to guide us, and it all starts with a spark…

Celebrating youth on #WorldTheatreDay

Join SPARC in celebrating youth on #WorldTheatreDay, March 27, 2017.

Below is a message from Theatre Ontario’s Youth Advisory Committee with all the details on how to recognize this day and engage your community in empowering, and providing opportunity to youth.


We are Theatre Ontario’s Youth Advisory Committee, a group of eight people ranging from ages 16-25, who have a strong interest in the development and empowerment of youth across Ontario. Together we come from different backgrounds; geographically, culturally, and artistically. Our collective goal is to connect youth interested in theatre across Ontario and empower them to take on an active role in creating opportunities in their communities. This year we want to highlight and recognize the crucial role youth play within artistic communities. We also want to bring awareness to ourselves and the province about what is needed in communities across Ontario to help these youth voices be heard.

To kick off our year of initiatives to unite young theatre artists across the province, we invite you to join us in celebrating World Theatre Day on Monday, March 27. Print out and a post a photo of you with one of our #WorldTheatreDay cards (attached) to get involved and join the conversation on Twitter at @theatreontario or on our Facebook page.

If posting on social media is not your thing, we invite you to email us the answers to these questions so we can post on your behalf. We hope to use the answers we collect on #WorldTheatreDay to begin to develop a stronger understanding of how we can support you and your community moving forward. This will be crucial in the next steps for our work as the Youth Advisory Committee.

We hope you will consider joining us on #WorldTheatreDay to kick off our year of empowering and engaging youth in arts across Ontario. Please let us know if you have any questions.


Best wishes,

Theatre Ontario’s Youth Advisory Committee


SPARC Network Coordinator Returns

We are delighted to announce that as of March 2017 Greg Thomas the SPARC Network Coordinator will be resuming his duties at SPARC albeit on a reduced schedule to begin with, in line with his recovery plan.

Greg would like to thank the SPARC family for all the support, well wishes and understanding sent his way following his serious car collision whilst cycling in September of last year.

Speaking with SPARC Greg Thomas said:

“Firstly I would like to thank Michael Clipperton, the Interim SPARC Network Coordinator for taking over the reins and growing the SPARC network exponentially in my absence.  It is amazing to see the energy created by the 2016 Symposium and the growth, potential and solidarity such a network can bring to those of us trying to grow the Performing Arts in our rural communities.”

Sadly the bike will be not be returning to work so quickly 🙁

Greg goes on to compliment the hard work done by the SPARC Network Steering Committee and the Symposium Planning Committee in bringing the rural performing arts scene closer together.

Greg will be spending the next month or so getting up to speed with the many developments SPARC has overseen, both to our virtual and physical network, in his time away.  He will be looking to reconnect with old and new friends across Ontario and helping to build on the important conversations, ideas and connections that have been made in the past 6 months.

“I cannot wait to get going again, it’s been a frustrating time spent on the sideline, but in the short time that I’ve been back I’m excited to see the huge progress being made and some of the amazing people making the Rural Performing Arts tick, getting involved with the SPARC network.”

Greg Thomas can be contacted at  Michael Clipperton will be staying on with us as the Chair of the SPARC Outreach committee and can be contacted at

What Is Sparc?


SPARC is a network whose purpose is to ignite and help sustain performing arts communities in rural Ontario.  The network has been designed so that it is owned, developed and controlled by YOU, the individuals, groups and organizations that make the performing arts happen in rural and remote areas.  You will inform the growth and evolution of SPARC over the next few years.

How SPARC evolves and grows over the next few years is up to you  – the amazing people that make the performing arts happen in our communities.


                                                                    SPARC + Fuel = Fire.

We are about to roll out our website, forum and blog, which have been created to provide a virtual space where the organizers of our rural performing arts scenes, can meet to exchange ideas, troubleshoot challenges and share solutions.

Bringing People Together


                    Community ConsultationsIMG_0169

It is our belief that a strong, vibrant network will significantly raise the profile of the Performing Arts in our rural communities and as a result increase our capacity to make awesome performing arts projects happen.  Over the next three years SPARC will be consulting with new and old friends.  We will be finding out ways in which our performing arts communities can collaborate with each other, locally and provincially.

Please get in touch if you would like us to visit your community.

                                      Symposium 2016:

sparc-symposium-widget-thumbEvery two years SPARC seeks to create the space for the presenters, creators, producers and animateurs of the performing arts world to gather in a specific location for a creative weekend of networking, problem solving and strategising.  This year we will be hosting the Symposium at the Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre, Haliburton, Ontario.  October 27th-30th 2016.  Places are still available but book now to avoid disappointment.                     

Performing Arts Education and Mentorship:

SPARC is committed to supporting performing arts education and mentorship initiatives that target new and emerging performing artists from our respective areas.  How do we pass on the torch to younger generations, what do they have to teach us and what can they learn from their community elders?

How to Get Involved.

Working Groups: We are looking for enthusiastic and experienced people to inform and potentially join our working groups.  The working groups are currently focusing on geographically expanding the SPARC network, near and far.  We will be doing this through a combination of physical outreach, our October symposium and developing our online media capacity.

Blogging : We are currently seeking guest bloggers and/or vloggers from rural performing arts backgrounds to contribute their experiences, wisdom, struggles and ideas to our online blog.  Please get in touch with Greg Thomas if you feel like you have an article, story or hot topic to share.


                                                                                                                                                                Photo Credit: James Elve


Become a constellation. 

SPARC’s ‘for us by us’ approach to the rural performing arts is based on the constellation model.  A ‘constellation’ in this sense is a concentrated local network which may be anything from 1 or 2 people in a local area to a group of thousands. These constellations then connect and feed into the larger Ontario wide constellation.  SPARC will be working hard to develop and design effective ways of linking local and regional constellations together.


Network Weaving:

In order for the performing arts scene to thrive we believe there needs to be people, services and systems that allow us to communicate with each other effectively.  This is the art of network weaving, how do we, strengthen ourselves and the whole? If you think you might have the answer, or want to find answers to this question, then welcome to SPARC!

Have we missed something?

SPARC has been designed by rural performing arts organizers for rural performing arts organizers.  If you feel there is something SPARC is missing or a role SPARC could be playing or assisting with, please get in touch.  We would love to hear from you whether you’re just starting out, or are well established; we look forward to meeting you and we hope you will join us on this exciting journey.

The SPARC team.