National Urban Arts Forum January 24th

20 Jan

The Governor General, Her Excellency Michaelle Jean will be visiting Vancouver on Thursday January 24th at the Centre A Gallery in the DTES. The sixth installation of the National Urban Arts Forum, invites youth artists to share with Ms Jean, their urban experience, and the role that the arts play in their lives.

“This initiative highlights how urban artists in disenfranchised neighbourhoods and communities are using urban art to combat youth crime and empower youth to build stronger communities. Decision makers, members of the Order of Canada and philanthropists participate in the forums to learn about the accomplishments of marginalized youth and to offer ways to assist them in their efforts. Forums have taken place across Canada as well as in Brazil and South Africa. New community-based initiatives have emerged out of the forums, often galvanizing entire communities around crime prevention and social transformation.” (

The following is a summary of the main recommendations presented to Her Excellency by Canadian youth:

  • Provide a national space in which youth perspectives can be taken seriously and youth initiatives can be supported
  • Increase opportunities for young Canadians and youth overseas to collaborate and network around common aims
  • Help foster greater awareness and support for initiatives that use urban art as a tool to combat youth crime and empower youth to improve their neighbourhoods and communities
  • Encourage youth to improve their efforts to foster social change through mentorship opportunities with experts in a variety of fields

Rhythm & Action Arts will be there, alongside our partners, Intersection Media Youth program,, and the breakdance crew Now or Never, to welcome Ms. Jean to our city, and showcase our finest young urban artists. We welcome her initiative, and see this as a good opportunity to demonstrate the many positive works undertaken by our community.

Rhythm and Action Arts has delivered urban arts / sports workshops (skateboarding, hip hop dance, breakdance) as well as multicultural education through music and movement (capoeira, powwow, bhangra) for schools and community centres across the city. Rhythm & Action Arts identifies the common ground between cultures through music and cultural expression. All of R&A’s events showcase the common ground by incorporating cultural elements into contemporary art forms.

We have provided young talent with professional development opportunities by offering workshops structured to develop their skills and knowledge that equip them for work as community mentors, instructors and performers in Vancouver. Youth involved with Rhythm & Action have performed for the likes of VANOC 2010, corporate clients including Smart Design and Yaletown Magazine, and community events such as the Mobilization Against War and Occupation Hip Hop Festival. They have appeared on Urban Rush, (and will again on Tuesday January 22nd), APTN, and Shaw Express. Some participants are seeking employment in the entertainment industry and now have agent representation.

We look forward to hosting the Governor General next week. We are curious what will come of it, and to hear what her commitments and influence are on affecting policy regarding the arts, youth and crime. Ms Jean has declared that the urban arts and youth are her primary mandate, recommending that the urban arts are a vital tool in developing resiliency in youth, preventing crime and building community. Its too bad the National Crime Prevention Centre failed to recognize our work as crime prevention, when they denied us funding after hailing our project as a great success story (we have them on video tape saying that Rhythm & Action is doing great crime prevention work). Perhaps Ms. Jean can wake up Ottawa, and have some influence over a government that is increasingly fighting crime with more bullets, tasers, and cops on the beat and withdrawing support for community based arts and culture.

It is high time that Canada’s representatives support the urban arts and recognize it as a tool for social development and cohesion. Canada needs to recognize that the arts are good for the economy as well, and that investing in Canada’s talent increases our intellectual capital. It must go further than this forum however, so let’s keep the pressure on. We expect this forum to facilitate positive change for the struggling arts communities across the country, and should expect nothing less. Ms Jean is a remarkable woman with many achievements, and we will be watching more closely how she advocates for the urban arts.

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One Response to “National Urban Arts Forum January 24th”

  1. Allen Taylor January 20, 2008 at 1:43 am #

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Allen Taylor

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