MT GAMBIER GATHERING #4:

Introduction

On the December 13th 2012 the following email was sent to Managerial Staff at Country Arts SA (CASA) inviting them along to the final gathering of the Coriolis Effect in Mt Gambier February 1st to 3rd 2013.

Since February 2012, 6 artists from Victoria, Northern Territory and Western Australia, under the leadership of Country Arts SA, Performance Development and in collaboration with Live Art organisation Punctum Inc have been exploring THE CORIOLIS EFFECT a major professional development and research initiative that brings together artists, organisations, thinkers and doers to explore live arts and civic engagement in regional settings.

As a part of the program we have been looking at the…
The Dynamic vs Foundation attributes of both Country Arts SA and Punctum Inc. Originally we wrote in the promotional blurbs…
“Punctum’s, Live Art practice is a ‘dynamic system’ that highlights participatory arts practice. It is flexible and can respond quickly, shaping and forming art works that are instant or durational. It is right for these times. ‘Foundation systems’ as embodied by Country Arts SA, are arts centres, theatres, libraries, and museums are founded in bricks and mortar, preservation, and presentation. These ‘foundation structures’ are now increasingly looking to extend their reach and are hence programming beyond their walls to collaborate with flexible, dynamic, rigorous and responsive arts structures that engage in participation with a broad public in new ways. The Coriolis Effect will bring Punctum’s ‘dynamic system’ and Country Arts SA’s ‘foundation structure’ together.”

So now as a part of the program’s final face to face meeting, the Coriolis Effect Artists invite 6 staff members of Country Arts SA to a weekend of live art thinking & researching and bringing it all together.
The weekend will allow CASA staff members first hand and practical experience into the artistic and civic engagement processes that have been explored in the program where you will be given civic engagement research tasks similar to the ones that the Coriolis Artists were introduced to.
The 2 day program will also generate “take home and keep” thoughts around new connections, networks and arts practice that may assist you in programming future projects for the organisation.
The program will include a film night, friendly dinners and a few “meet the locals” tasks, centred around Mt Gambier and its cultural future.

Please note: you will not be asked or required to “perform” or be a live art project in any way.

Link to 'Facebook page invitation'

Let’s Meet Mt Gambier (Screening)
The 'Meet Mount Gambier' event brought together a range of individuals identified as cultural leaders (aka movers and shakers) from diverse fields in Mount Gambier. People working locally within the fields such as mental health, forestry, education, arts, and tourism were brought into discussion with the artists from The Coriolis Effect and attending representatives from across Country Arts SA. This discussion was framed by the collective viewing of two films which presented past and current perspectives on Mount Gambier. Information presented in the films related to industry, location, tourism, lifestyle, cultural demographic, population growth and local perception of the role of local council in providing cultural leadership in the community. Interviews with local people were gathered and compiled to present the attending parties with a diverse picture of how culture in Mount Gambier is perceived and to gleam a broad picture of how civic engagement prodominately occurs. After viewing the films Artists and Country Arts SA reps were guided in discussion with the local experts by the objective to find out things they didnt know about Mount Gambier. The locals experts were asked to reflect on the information in the films, providing their opinion on the accuracy of the representation. The resulting discussion was lively and fruitful, providing all in attendance with ample material by which to begin reflection and re imagination in relation to their diverse roles within the community and overarching project.

Link to “Let’s Meet Mt Gambier” by Jess Foster

Link to “Life In Australia: Mount Gambier” by Film Australia (NFSA)

This was a hilarious icebreaker by looking at how we ‘human beings’ liked to look at and give treatment of ourselves back in the day. It also put into context the evolution of public opinion and engagement at different aspects of the town’s riches or regrets. Meeting the locals was of course a pleasure, but I found myself naturally gravitated towards the artists for conversation. Maybe a more facilitated introduction and chat with the locals could have bore more conversational fruit? – Country Arts SA Participant

As an outsider, this session was a wonderful way to get a feel for the local community – the culture, environment, and issues affecting the community. – Country Arts SA Participant

The Let’s Meet Mount Gambier was a great way to kick-off the weekend workshop. It screened a retrospective of the town in the 1960s and juxtaposed this with the views of residents living in the city now. It was a revealing sneak-peek into the Blue Lake city, although for the purpose of balance the documentary may have benefitted from the inclusion of additional voices. – Country Arts SA Participant

Salon #3 What Was Live Art Doing in Kumuwuki?
For the benefit of The Coriolis Effect artists and the CASA staff in attendance. Each artist presented their Goolwa project as a Pecha Kucha presentation to the rest of the group.
What was their process?
What was the outcome?

This was fascinating by comparing every artists different approaches and the results they gave. It was a fantastic “behind the scenes” look at these artists individual practice and what their work entailed on a more philosophical and personal level. It was also a great opportunity to see the one work that I missed! – Country Arts SA Participant

This was brilliant, to hear about what the artists produced and the journey that took them there was really special. – Country Arts SA Participant

The artists invited workshop participants into their creative thinking process by sharing their motivations behind the living art they produced at Kumuwuki. It was interesting to hear what inspired their creations and their insights gave the works greater depth and context, while at the same time encouraging us to think more broadly about how the seeds of similar artistic ideas could be sown in our regions. – Country Arts SA Participant

Salon #4 Hypothetical Live Art & Civic Engagement Solutions for Country Arts SA
For the final Salon CASA staff members were asked to think up a real project or place (town) that currently needs some cultural leadership or creative problem solving in their position.
They were asked to ask themselves three questions
1. How could the town where the project is set in imagine itself?
2. How could my organisation contribute?
3. How could I contribute on behalf of my organisation?

The Coriolis Effect artists were then placed in small groups to discuss the projects with the CASA staff to creatively solve the problems through a Live Art methodology or come up with Live Art projects that might assist the manager in arriving at some solutions

Every group was asked to describe the real or hypothetical projects in the following ways.
• What and where is the civic engagement?
• What is the live art component?
• What could we discover about the town / project through the proposed Live Art project?

Personally, this was a very interesting exercise and one that I wish all of my colleagues could have been a part of. To have an artist in the room to purely explore issues we are facing, without an outcome or funding acquittal to do was a great opportunity and I heard one participant describe it as “luxurious!” Couldn’t agree more. – Country Arts SA Participant.

The meeting of creative minds was stimulating and took us to unexpected places. I hope we can do more of this in the future. – Country Arts SA Participant.

The Salon was a highlight of the weekend that spawned a hotbed of ideas. The concept allowed arts administrators and artists the opportunity to collaborate on a hypothetical project and tackle it with unencumbered creativity. The sessions were dynamic, engaging and highly fruitful. – Country Arts SA Participant.


ON LINE MEETINGS
A big part of our research during the Coriolis Effect was to experiment with the way in which artists can collaborate while living in various regional and non-regional places across the country. In addition to our face to face group gatherings, individual Skype chats and a plethora of emails and phone calls, we regularly got together via the online Go To Meeting. Sometimes we were on video conference and other times, we opted for voice conferences only but it was a great way to connect with each other on a regular basis. This is our schedule and we (more or less) stuck to it!

GO TO MEETING SCHEDULE
Monday 6 February 4.30pm (CST - SA time)
Monday 20 February 4.30pm (CST - SA time)
Monday 26 March 4.30pm (CST - SA time)
Monday 23 April 4.30pm (CST - SA time)
Monday 21 May 4.30pm (CST - SA time)
Tuesday 12 June 4.30pm (CST - SA time)
Monday 16 July 4.30pm (CST - SA time)
Monday 6 August 4.30pm (CST - SA time)
Monday 3 September 4.30pm (CST - SA time)
Monday 17 September 4.30pm (CST - SA time)
Monday 19 November 4.30pm (CST - SA time)
Monday 17 December 4.30pm (CST - SA time)

As a team of participating artists that often found themselves in other places around the globe in the 12 months of the investigation it was an imperative to communicate regularly & with an inexpensive tool. It was decided to use “GoTo” meetings, a commercial on line face to face conference meeting software that Country Arts SA had recently adopted as its preferred 'remote group meeting communication instrument'. Much fun, frustration & frivolity was had during the 12 meetings in trying to communicate ideas, methods, tasks & theories between Italy, Berlin, New York, Toulouse, Jogjakarta, Alice Springs, Sydney, Castlemaine, Goolwa & Adelaide at different times despite data drop outs, ambient background noise & different time zones. The necessity of communication via the online method was not matched with the ease & comfortableness the participants found in the face to face gatherings. One can only hope that future faster broadband will lessen online connection problems experienced & service a more equitable conversational tool.

Here are the results of the survey we took regarding the effectiveness of the online meetings and the digital tools we were using.
Link to pdf: On Line Survey Summary

Here is what the conversation looked like on 6th August 2012 at 5.50pm (CST – SA time)
Link to pdf: GoTo Meeting Screenshot 060812

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