Street closures around the NAC during Ottawa Race Weekend

The Transformations Project

Transformations-natasha adiyana morris-story
Natasha Adiyana Morris, Black Future (awkward thanksgivings)
Munish Sharma, What is Canadian Culture?
Tatanniq Lucie Idlout, Dear Candada
Papy Maurice Mbwiti, Coup de gueule
K. Ho, dreams of whiteness

“What would it take to transform our society for the betterment of all?”*

This is a national project in which live performance companies from across Canada asked some of their favourite artists to approach the above question in whatever way they see fit. Visit the works now!

The way it works

This project began as a grassroots-initiated project from Canada’s theatre community – including both large and small institutions. We approached the NAC to host the content, and they graciously accepted.

Participating companies have provided their chosen artists small commissions for ultra-short pieces created in video, audio or text. The idea is twofold: to help get some income to at least some of the many arts workers hard-hit by the pandemic; and to enrol the rich artistic imagination of this country as a way to assess where we are and where we could be going.

Project starting point

This project grew out of a desire among many arts workers for our country to move towards a Universal Basic Income – something that so many Canadian citizens have now experienced a taste of through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. In the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, CERB saved careers, homes and families in Canada.

So the question began circulating – what else is needed? What else should we be thinking about collectively?

Collective artistic action

This was a moment for artists to step up – as they have been doing in times of upheaval for thousands of years. Among nearly all human activities, art is especially well-equipped to process both complexity and catastrophe. Art can provide succour, solace, challenge and medicine – all because art doesn’t seek to reduce the impossible-to-comprehend, it seeks to distill it. As artists, we bring a training and tradition of practice that is accustomed to grappling with the greatest difficulties our species face. We turn them into song, dance, poetry, story.

Here then, are the Transformations as envisioned by Canadian artists from coast to coast to coast. 

The Transformations committee

A small committee has been steering this project. We are:

  • Catherine Bourgeois, Artistic Director of Joe, Jack et John, Montreal
  • Rhodnie Désir, Artistic Director of RD Créations, Montreal
  • Ross Manson, Artistic Director of Volcano, Toronto (Committee Chair)
  • Lori Marchand, Managing Director of NAC Indigenous Theatre, Ottawa
  • Pam Patel, Artistic Director of MT Space, Kitchener
  • Anita Rochon, Artistic Co-Director of The Chop, Vancouver

Commissioning companies

The following live performance companies participated in the Transformations Project over the course of the 2020/2021 season:

SPECIAL THANKS: The National Arts Centre; Steve Plummer, One Pebble Consulting (Scotland); and to David Yee, artistic director of FuGen Theatre, for articulating the question* that underlies this project.

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