Winnipeg Workshop: Incubating Digital and Cultural Entrepreneurship for Arts, Research & Recreation 

2022 Spring Workshop Series – Winnipeg, Manitoba

In this series of workshop sessions, we will describe the conversations that led to the project, share the Canada Council for the Arts grant details, and address the opportunities that the digital/cultural incubator provides for local communities. Also, these sessions provide an overview of the participatory process that will be used to set up future digital development activities. 

We gratefully acknowledge financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Greenhouse Program. 

Our Purpose (2022-2023)

The Digital Arts and Culture Incubator 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. 

It 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. Provide hands-on digital arts and cultural entrepreneurship training and advanced mentorship for emerging urban, rural and remote Indigenous artists
  2. 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).
  3. Explore and better understand the role and impacts of culture and creativity in driving community-based research and economic development.

Key to the implementation of arts-oriented economic initiatives for rural and underserved regions is local access to and familiarity with information technology and digital media.

The importance of digital training for arts and cultural sectors, as well as job creation and participation in markets for digital products is widely recognized as essential for economic recovery in modern economies, as evidenced by several creative economy reports by the United Nations Creative Economy Program (UNCTAD 2008, 2010 and 2013). 

Our arts-oriented economic development initiative aims to support the design and testing of a culturally-aligned and community-focused digital creative incubator facilitating development of new artistic and cultural training opportunities and jobs for remote and rural artists and cultural connectors. Research supported by the University of Minnesota Duluth, for example, indicates the requires careful study of the traditional and contemporary values that communities see in such programs is required.

Overview

The pandemic has brought with it many challenges to business opportunities in the North, but also several opportunities. There is tremendous potential to expand the fast-growing global creative economy to remote, rural and northern Indigenous communities. 

A key advantage of this sector is the fact that many products and services developed under this rubric are digital in nature, such as (but not limited to) audio and video production, podcasting, still photography, augmented and virtual reality games and applications, coding, telepresence and numerous others. 

With support of strategy innovation funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and its new Digital Greenhouse program, our exploratory Digital Arts and Culture Incubator project seeks 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. 

Promoting a culture of creativity 

One of our main goals for this project is to explore, design and test creation of a comprehensive education program for Indigenous and diverse artists and cultural workers. Since November 2021 the incubator has been providing synchronous and asynchronous training, educating youth and community members about the use of digital technologies to create and valorize their artistic work. Beyond training focused on entrepreneurship and small business development in our own cultural contexts, we aim to addresses the creation of digital art work, utilizing the use of emerging augmented and virtual reality, game design, visual projection technology, photography, filmmaking, and blockchain technologies.

Most importantly, our exciting new project will support skills development, training and mentorship for Indigenous youth from Nunavut, Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba.