Conscient Podcast: e61 sokoloski – from research to action

I think that there needs to be greater capacity within the art sector for research to action. When I say that the art sector itself needs to be driving policy. We need to have the tools, the understanding, the training, the connections to truly impact policy and one thing that Mass Culture is really focused on at the moment is how do we first engage the sector in what are the research priorities and what needs to be investigated together and what that process looks like, but then how do you then take that research create it so that it drives change.

robin sokoloski, conscient podcast, june 29, 2021, toronto

Robin Sokoloski (she/her) is very active in the Canadian arts and culture sector. Currently, she is the Director of Organizational Development of Mass Culture – Mobilisation culturelle, Robin is working with academics, funders and arts practitioners to support a thriving arts community by mobilizing the creation, amplification and community informed analysis of research. For 10+ years, Robin was the Executive Director of Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC). During her time there she launched the Canadian Play Outlet (a bookstore dedicated entirely to Canadian Plays), fostered a growing national awards program for playwrights, the Tom Hendry Awards, and led major changes within the organization. Robin remains committed to Canada’s arts and culture scene by volunteering for various arts organizations as a way of staying connected to the local arts community and ensuring public access to artistic experiences. 

I first met Robin Sokoloski at a national arts service organization meeting in Ottawa and as a representative of Mass Culture. As of April 2021, we worked together on the coordinating committee of the Sectoral Climate Arts Leadership for the Emergency (SCALE). 

Two quotes caught my attention during our conversation:  

Creative Solution Making

I’m very curious to see what the arts can do to convene us as a society around particular areas of challenges and interests that we’re all feeling and needing to face. I think it’s about bringing the art into a frame where we could potentially provide a greater sense of creative solution making instead of how we are sometimes viewed, which is art on walls or on stages. I think there’s much more potential than that to engage the arts in society.

Organizational Structures

We do have the power as human beings to change human systems and so I think I’m very curious of working with people who are like-minded and who want to operate differently. I often use the organizational structure as an example of that because it is, as we all know is not a perfect model. We complain about it often and yet we always default to it. How can we come together, organize and, and bring ideas to life in different ways by changing that current system, make it more equitable, make it more inclusive, find ways of bringing people in and not necessarily having them commit, but have them come touch and go when they need to and I feel as though there’ll be a more range of ideas brought to the table and just a more enriching experience and being able to bring solutions into reality by thinking of how our structures are set up and how we could do those things differently.

As I have done in all episodes in season 2 so far, I have integrated excerpts from soundscape compositions and quotations drawn from e19 reality, as well as moments of silence and new soundscape recordings, in this episode.

I would like to thank Robin for taking the time to speak with me, for sharing her deep knowledge of cultural policy, her passion for research, her spirit of generosity and her ability to walk her talk on organizational change. 

For more information on Robin’s work, see https://www.linkedin.com/in/robinsokoloski/  and Mass Culture

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(traduction)

Je pense qu’il doit y avoir une plus grande capacité dans le secteur de l’art pour que la recherche se transforme en action. Quand je dis que le secteur artistique lui-même doit être le moteur de la politique. Nous devons avoir les outils, la compréhension, la formation, les connexions pour avoir un véritable impact sur la politique et une chose sur laquelle Mass Culture se concentre vraiment en ce moment est de savoir comment engager d’abord le secteur dans les priorités de recherche et ce qui doit être étudié ensemble et à quoi ressemble ce processus, mais ensuite comment prendre cette recherche et la créer pour qu’elle conduise au changement.

robin sokoloski, balado conscient, 29 juin 2021, toronto

Robin Sokoloski (elle/il) est très active dans le secteur des arts et de la culture au Canada. Actuellement directrice du développement organisationnel de Mass Culture – Mobilisation culturelle, Robin travaille avec des universitaires, des bailleurs de fonds et des praticiens des arts pour soutenir une communauté artistique florissante en mobilisant la création, l’amplification et l’analyse communautaire de la recherche. Pendant plus de 10 ans, Robin a été directrice générale de la Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC). Au cours de cette période, elle a lancé le Canadian Play Outlet (une librairie entièrement consacrée aux pièces de théâtre canadiennes), a encouragé un programme national de prix pour les dramaturges, les Tom Hendry Awards, et a mené des changements majeurs au sein de l’organisation. Robin reste engagée sur la scène artistique et culturelle du Canada en faisant du bénévolat pour diverses organisations artistiques, ce qui lui permet de rester en contact avec la communauté artistique locale et de garantir l’accès du public aux expériences artistiques. 

J’ai rencontré Robin Sokoloski pour la première fois lors d’une réunion nationale des organismes de services aux arts à Ottawa et en tant que représentant de Mass Culture. En avril 2021, nous avons travaillé ensemble au sein du comité de coordination du programme LeSAUT (Leadership sectoriel des arts sur l’urgence de la transition écologique).

Deux citations ont attiré mon attention au cours de notre conversation :  

L’élaboration de solutions créatives

Je suis très curieux de voir ce que les arts peuvent faire pour nous rassembler en tant que société autour de domaines particuliers de défis et d’intérêts que nous ressentons tous et auxquels nous devons faire face. Je pense qu’il s’agit d’amener l’art dans un cadre où nous pourrions potentiellement fournir un plus grand sens de la création de solutions créatives au lieu de la façon dont nous sommes parfois perçus, qui est l’art sur les murs ou sur les scènes. Je pense qu’il y a beaucoup plus de potentiel que cela pour engager les arts dans la société.

Structures organisationnelles

En tant qu’êtres humains, nous avons le pouvoir de changer les systèmes humains et je suis donc très curieux de travailler avec des personnes qui partagent les mêmes idées et qui veulent fonctionner différemment. J’utilise souvent la structure organisationnelle comme un exemple de cela parce que, comme nous le savons tous, ce n’est pas un modèle parfait. Nous nous en plaignons souvent et pourtant nous y recourons toujours. Comment pouvons-nous nous rassembler, nous organiser et donner vie à des idées de manière différente en changeant le système actuel, en le rendant plus équitable, plus inclusif, en trouvant des moyens de faire venir des gens et de ne pas nécessairement les faire s’engager, mais de les faire venir et repartir quand ils en ont besoin et j’ai l’impression qu’il y aura une plus grande variété d’idées apportées à la table, une expérience plus enrichissante et la possibilité d’apporter des solutions dans la réalité en pensant à la manière dont nos structures sont mises en place et comment nous pourrions faire ces choses différemment.

Comme je l’ai fait dans tous les épisodes de la saison 2 jusqu’à présent, j’ai intégré dans cet épisode des extraits de compositions de paysages sonores et des citations tirées de e19 reality, ainsi que des moments de silence et des nouveaux enregistrements de paysage sonores. 

Je tiens à remercier Robin d’avoir pris le temps de s’entretenir avec moi, d’avoir partagé sa profonde connaissance de la politique culturelle, sa passion pour la recherche, son esprit de générosité et sa capacité à joindre le geste à la parole en matière de changement organisationnel. 

Pour plus d’informations sur le travail de Robin, voir https://www.linkedin.com/in/robinsokoloski/ et Mass Culture – Mobilisation culturelle.

The post e61 sokoloski – from research to action appeared first on conscient podcast / balado conscient. conscient is a bilingual blog and podcast (French or English) by audio artist Claude Schryer that explores how arts and culture contribute to environmental awareness and action.

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About the Concient Podcast from Claude Schryer

The conscient podcast / balado conscient is a series of conversations about art, conscience and the ecological crisis. This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). The language of the guest determines the language of the podcast. Episode notes are translated but not individual interviews.

I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.

The term ‘conscient’ is defined as ‘being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations’. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast / balado conscient follows up on my http://simplesoundscapes.ca (2016–2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.

Season 1 (May to October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie’s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.

Season 2 (March 2021 – ) explores the concept of reality and is about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that ‘I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, ‘the state of things as they actually exist’, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way’. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 features interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.

my professional services

I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). My focus in (quasi) retirement is environmental issues within my area of expertise in arts and culture, in particular in acoustic ecology. I’m open to become involved in projects that align with my values and that move forward environmental concerns. Feel free to email me for a conversation : claude@conscient.ca

acknowledgement of eco-responsibility

I acknowledge that the production of the conscient podcast / balado conscient produces carbon. I try to minimize this carbon footprint by being as efficient as possible, including using GreenGeeks as my web server and acquiring carbon offsets for my equipment and travel activities from BullFrog Power and Less.

a word about privilege and bias

While recording episode 19 ‘reality’, I heard elements of ‘privilege’ in my voice that I had not noticed before. It sounded a bit like ‘ecological mansplaining’. I realize that, in spite of good intentions, I need to work my way through issues of privilege (of all kinds) and unconscious bias the way I did through ecological anxiety and grief during the fall of 2020. My re-education is ongoing.

Go to conscient.ca

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