Context for an Incubator Program

Draft Text

Incubating digital arts and cultural entrepreneurship

Our project, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is an experimental urban and land-based arts and culture training program for next-generation Indigenous talent, with the goal to incubate sustainable self-employment across digital, creative and cultural sectors.

This experimental, pilot project builds upon proven cultural entrepreneurship training to foster new arts industry employment through a careful balance of traditional knowledge, science and modern technologies.

Indigenous artists from Northwestern Ontario, Nunavut and Manitoba will learn alongside an inclusive team of researchers, arts educators and professional artists to: 

  1. Develop and launch art and culture-based businesses utilizing digital technologies (animation, augmented reality, virtual reality, lights and visual projection, film, and immersive digital art).
  2. Provide hands-on digital arts and cultural entrepreneurship training and advanced mentorship for emerging urban, rural and remote Indigenous artists
  3. Explore and better understand the role and impacts of culture and creativity in driving community-based research and economic development.

What is Digital Greenhouse?

The Digital Greenhouse is a digital innovation initiative for Canadian individuals, groups and organizations. It supports short-term projects that leverage digital technology to address sectoral and digital challenges, including:

  • the development of new digital tools and solutions that increase the resilience, sustainability, and discoverability of the arts sector
  • the development of sector-wide and cross-sector collaborations, partnerships, and networks to support innovative digital business models, revenue models and monetization strategies
  • sectoral approaches aimed at strategically increasing the digital/data literacy and ongoing digital transformation of the arts sector
  • addressing challenges and exploring digital solutions related to accessibility, equity, diversity, decolonization, social justice, and climate responsibility created by, or relevant to, the digital world
  • addressing challenges and exploring solutions related to the lack of access to digital infrastructure for remote regions and Northern and under-represented communities.

We greatly appreciate and acknowledge the support of strategic innovation funding from the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Greenhouse Program for making this pilot program possible. 

Context and background 

The Covid-19 pandemic has obliterated opportunities for northern, remote and rural Indigenous emerging and professional artists to participate in opportunities to display, disseminate and promote their creative and cultural products. The pandemic has brought with it many challenges to business opportunities in the North, but also several opportunities.

This unique program works to capitalize on one specific opportunity and challenge: The increasing reliance and utilization of digital communication technologies and collaborative hardware/software solutions to connect physically remote locations with each other and major urban centers.

The main goal of the project proposed here is the creation of a comprehensive education program for indigenous artists and cultural workers.

The incubator will provide synchronous and asynchronous training programs educating youth and adults about the use of digital technologies to create and valorize their artistic work.

Beyond entrepreneurship training focused on starting up a business in their own cultural context, our program also addresses the creation of digital art work, utilizing the use of augmented and virtual reality, game design, visual projection technology, photography, filmmaking, and the creation of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).

As such, this project will support skills development, training and mentorship for Indigenous youth from Nunavut, Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba. Indigenous learners and community members will participate alongside established professional Indigenous artists and culture carriers to ensure the training and experiences are inclusive and culturally appropriate.