The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – Dec. 4, 2013
Michelle Soullière has recently been appointed as one of two provincial cultural animators for the Ontario Arts Council
The Ontario Arts Council has expanded its cultural animator test pilot and to hire arts advocates in both Windsor and Kingston, Ont.
Michelle Soullière, a local multidisciplinary artist, has recently been hired as Windsor’s latest cultural animator. She follows in the footsteps of Alana Bartol, who was the first cultural animator hired by the OAC.
“[The OAC] recognize that there’s some momentum building in Windsor in terms of community arts practices, so it’s really great that they’re able to have this position here again,” said Soullière. “Last time it was a trial run, and they’ve decided to run it for another cycle, which is a year contract.”
According to the OAC, a cultural animator is responsible for promoting community arts practices and raising awareness about the OAC’s Artist in the Community/Workplace granting program. They are viewed as “community resources, on hand to assist potential applicants who are developing projects and proposals.”
In addition to sitting on a jury to award the grant, Soullière received the grant multiple times for Broken City Lab, an artist-led interdisciplinary collective and non-profit she helped to found, which, according to its website seeks to “explore and unfold curiosities around locality, infrastructures, education and creative practice leading towards civic change.”
Broken City Lab received the grant for its project Save the City, which featured five months of community engaged projects. “For that we did one event per month where we collaborated with the community of Windsor to get information about the city and to produce works based on the collaboration.”
“This is kind of like a niche grant that they offer but it’s definitely an up-and-coming practice within the arts to collaborate and be community engaged,” she said. “It [has] a lot to do with the work that Broken City Lab has done over the past five years. It’s building momentum locally and now getting provincial recognition for that.”
During her term as cultural animator, there will be two granting cycles, with March 3 and Oct. 1 deadlines next year. Soullière will work with individuals, artists and non-arts partners to facilitate partnerships, help develop grant applications and to help them develop support materials.
“I’m really looking forward to connecting people together and maybe sparking some ideas [and] helping develop the projects,” she said.
Soullière will be blogging about her position and community engaged arts practices, hosting information sessions in the future, and holding one-on-one interviews with interested applicants. Those seeking to contact her can reach her at cultural. [email protected].
Jonathon Liedtke is the managing editor of The Urbanite, Windsor’s alternative newspaper. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.