FUTURES/forward Mentorship Program

FUTURES/forward: a national community-engaged arts mentorship program

FUTURES/forward is a National Mentorship Program in Community-Engaged Arts for Social Change (ASC)!

FUTURES/forward is a mentorship program that supports community-engaged arts practitioners to work together in a peer-learning framework, with experienced artists mentoring evolving artists. The mentor/mentee relationship is directed by the mentee’s goals. Mentors are seasoned artist practitioners who provide personalized support, training, advice, encouragement, and feedback on a regular basis. Mentees can gain professional development, skills, and coaching. Participants can experience revitalized arts practices, enhanced community, and support. Community-engaged artists at many career stages can benefit from working with a mentor!

“I can’t underscore enough how this time has been essential to me in moving toward clarity and confidence about my values as an artist/activist/human, such that I feel revitalized to mobilize my skills, continue to clarify and expand my practices, and work in building collaborations from the ground up in alignment with my values.” mentee

“I loved this process and now realize that mentorship is something I love to do…My craft has developed through long experience, but it was good to put all that into a purely-pedagogical output. I feel a responsibility to the future, and this project has given me a new form to carry out that responsibility.” mentor

FUTURES/forward is a new initiative designed to connect seasoned ASC practitioners with early-to-mid career community-engaged artists, foster peer to peer exchange with others doing change work with diverse communities, and bridge the urban/rural divide. We are honoured and proud of the excellence of our mentors and mentees.

The FUTURES/forward program can embed community-engaged artists within organizations addressing the pressing environmental issues of our times. These artists (mentored by senior ASC practitioners) might work to enrich existing programs; develop new approaches to include arts-infused initiatives; offer innovative communications strategies, provide inclusive and interactive educational programs; or enrich public engagement and advocacy.

Some quick facts:

  • Work can be in performance (dance, theatre, music), visual, literary and digital art forms.
  • The duration of each mentorship arrangement can range from two to six months.
  • In each partnership, the mentor and mentee create a customized work plan. If an environmental organization is part of the mentorship as a “host”, the organization will also be part of creating a customized work plan.
  • ICASC provides both the mentor and mentee with support and compensation that varies according to the length and content of their work plan.

We have completed 2 cohorts and are underway with our third. We are looking forward to a fourth cohort in 2021.

More from FUTURES/forward participants:

“I now seek to merge theory and really being and doing and making together in community, aka practice, to engage in praxis. I am coming out of this highly planning- and intellectual/emotional groundwork-oriented time nurturing new and seeking further relationships with community partners and practitioners that prioritize self-determination, sensory learning, problem-solving pedagogies, ecological reciprocity, land-based knowledge, indigenous sovereignty, and queer ecological imagination.” mentee

“The most valuable new skills and approaches I gained from the FUTURES/forward mentorship are ways of mapping programming for evolving community needs, and …the difference between pitching to community partners (i.e. for resources including space and funding) and reaching out to potential participants.” mentee

“I got the opportunity to meet and connect with an amazing young Indigenous artist thousands of kilometres away.” mentor

“The biggest surprise was how empowering it felt to be a mentor! That is, it was power shared, and increased by collaborating.” mentor

Enquiries may be directed to programs@icasc.ca.

FUTURES/forward is hosted by the International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC), an Institute at Simon Fraser University in partnership with Judith Marcuse Projects (JMP), an arts organization with a 40-year history in Canada and abroad and a pioneer in the field of ASC. Our recently completed, six-year national study of ASC provides strong evidence of the high impact that community-engaged artists bring to diverse change agendas.

We gratefully acknowledge the generous support given to FUTURES/forward by the McConnell Foundation, the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund and Community Foundations of Canada, City of Vancouver, and Canadian Heritage.



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