Friday, March 04, 2016

Writers in the House

I repost this from the Art Forms blog. Exciting news about a fantastic project that I get to be part of. 

Thanks to generous funding from the Ontario Arts Council as well as the Lawson Foundation, we are excited to announce a brand new project with Gary Barwin!

"Writers in the House" is a nine-month project in which the artist, Gary, will offer workshops and spend time at a handful of youth residences (shelter, temporary housing, and assisted housing).

Here in Hamilton there are many youth shelters and services like this. Each location will act as Gary Barwin's creative "residence" for period of 4 to 8 weeks. Throughout these weeks, Gary will lead two introductory 
workshops, and then will be on site for collaborative writing, writing help, and for ongoing guidance. Youth will have time explore ideas, share stories find commonalities with their peers, and enjoy excellent artistic guidance from Gary. The youth will also collaboratively contribute to an anthology of their collected works, which would be printed and distributed widely. We also recently decided to add a podcast series as part of this project, where youth can share their creative work by recording it rather than writing. In turn, Gary will also write and create based off his interactions with the youth, location, and overall based off his experience as one the lead "Writer in the House."

Why are the arts important for marginalized youth in Hamilton?  
When Art Forms was just getting started, we partnered with the Social Planning & Research Council to research this very question. The resulting report presented several key findings, ones which came to serve as the very foundation for Art Forms:

     1. Engaging in arts and creative opportunities contribute to better health and social outcomes for at-risk, street-involved and homeless youth.
     2. Stakeholders (including youth) from the Hamilton community have identified the need for arts opportunities and provided advice on the strengths to build on and potential resources for moving forward. 

     3. A comprehensive arts program for at-risk youth must be centred on the experience and influence of young people, must strive for social inclusion and innovation.  

"Writers in the House" is designed to specifically facilitate, encourage and enable the youth's creative work, in collaboration with Gary. Sharing their thoughts and expression with the greater community will bring better understanding about young people and the lives they lead and their capacity for thoughtful, nuanced, and articulate expression. We also want to celebrate the creative capacity of young people, and with this project we hope to share broadly and promote the excellent work that young people are capable of.

We can't wait to share more about the project as it develops! So far we have agreed to work with:
Good Shepherd Notre Dame
Banyan & 
Arrell Youth Centre

More to come! 


Amanda Earl said...

this is amazing, Gary. so glad you're doing this. i know a lot of amazing creative work will come out of this, from the participants & from you. very cool.

gary barwin said...

Thanks, Amanda. My experience working with youth in a similar situation has been really inspiring for me. For the most part, they were willing to try so many different things, to try many different kinds of writing/making.