The Art of Changing the World (#ACW2017): British Council
It is our great honour and pleasure to introduce the international guests coming to The Art of Changing the World (ACW) 2017 in Ottawa — all experienced, community-engaged artists doing important change work abroad — whose participation is generously supported in part by the British Council office in Canada.
The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities. Their global work in the Arts aims to find new ways of connecting with and understanding each other through creativity. Art for social change is one of the British Council’s key pillars, which is showcased through the extension of safe spaces for culture as it builds trust and dialogue to support multiple expressions of cultural identities.
For more information on the British Council’s arts program across Canada, click here.
Ana Cecilia Restrepo Espinosa, Medellín, Colombia
Ana Cecilia is a dancer, and arts manager from Medellín, Colombia. She holds a B.A. “Cum Laude” in Dance, from the University of Maryland, USA, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Cultural Management and Policy Making, from the University of Barcelona, Spain.
She has worked professionally as a contemporary dancer and dance teacher in the USA, France, Cuba, Spain and Colombia, in collaboration with artists such as Meriam Rosen, Alvin Mayes, Humberto Canessa, Álvaro Restrepo, Marie France Delieuvin, and Peter Palacio among others.
She is a teacher at the University of Antioquia´s dance department in Medellín. From 2011 to 2016 she worked for the Secretariat of Civic Culture in the Medellín Mayor´s Office, first as dance consultant, later as coordinator of the grants program for arts and culture, and from 2014 through 2016 was general director of the Medellín Music Schools Network, a public program that offers music training for a social impact, and annually benefits close to 5000 children and youth in the city. Since October 2017 she is general manager of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Antioquia, a private non-profit organization that offers music education to children and youth from before birth to 25 years of age, promoting their integral development through the language of music.
Elaine Forde, Dublin, Ireland
After completing a Masters in Fine Art from London’s Chelsea Art College, I produced projects for London’s Chisenhale Gallery, Arts Inform and the Royal Institute of British Architects. At this point I knew I wanted to devote my career to arts engagement by working with artists and communities.
I have worked at The Playhouse, Derry-Londonderry for years where I direct and manage highly innovative, socially engaged arts programmes that enable artists and communities to collaborate by exploring social and political issues.
International Cultural Arts Network (ICAN) was funded by the EU Peace III programme. ICAN enabled artists and academics from conflict zones including Syria, Serbia, Iraq and South Africa to share their practice with Irish artists and communities by exchanging their skills and knowledge with local arts artists, using the arts as a vehicle to bridge barriers in current and post conflicted areas world-wide.
In 2012, I created Street Talk which is a pioneering youth art project, developed in partnership with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The project uses the arts to deter young offenders from further committing crime, and enables young people and police officers to humanize one another through positive and creative exchange.
In 2016 I was awarded a British Council Arts & Social Practice Fellowship in Chicago. Other highlights of my career include managing a contemporary art organisation, where I had the opportunity to curate exhibitions by internationally acclaimed artists.
Dijana Milosevic, Belgrade, Serbia
Dijana is an award-winning theatre director, writer and lecturer. She co-founded Dah Theatre Research Centre in Belgrade, Serbia and has been its leading director for over twenty years.
She was the Artistic Director for theatre festivals, was the president of the Association of the Independent Theatres and president of the board of BITEF Theatre, and a board member of national ITI. She is involved with several peacebuilding initiatives and collaborates with activist groups.
Milosevic has directed theatre shows with her company and toured them nationally and internationally. She also directed the work with other companies all over the world.
She is a well-known lecturer and has taught at prestigious Universities, writes articles and essays about theatre. She currently teaches at Institute for Modern Dance in Belgrade.
Benjamin Ortiz, Quito, Ecuador
Benjamin is a director, playwright, teacher, and artist in circus arts (particularly clowning), theatre, and street art. He holds a degree in Performing Arts from the Université Paul Valéry in Montpellier, France. Ortiz specializes, through experience and training, in social circus. He was the national pedagogical director for Circo Social Ecuador and later the national circus specialist in the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Ecuador.
Currently, he works at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar in Quito as coordinator of research in the international and interdisciplinary study on the Circo Social Ecuador. He is co-editor and author in the resulting books about that social circus research. He is a trainer for Cirque du Monde and Director of the Tejido de circo social, a national network of social circus in Ecuador.
Chrissie Tiller, London, United Kingdom
Chrissie is a writer, thinker, teacher, advisor and evaluator with an extensive experience of working through collaborative and social practice: particularly in periods of social, political and economic change and in cross-cultural contexts. This has included establishing major artists’ trainings and initiating networks across the EU, ex-Soviet countries and Central and South-East Europe. She has just completed a major think piece for Arts Council England on Power, privilege, cultural capital, ethics and politics in arts and culture and recent provocations for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the European Commission and others on arts, culture and participation.
We wish to thank the British Council for their generous support to make the participation of these amazing artists possible in #ACW2017!
Header photo: Carleton University, Ottawa