‘Artists Investigate the World in Particular Ways’

Ongoing arts festival explores building more secure citizens, community

From live theatre to panel discussions, Kate Story’s wish for Peterborough ArtsWORK Festival is generating a sense of hope for the community’s future.

Bringing artists and citizens together to arrive at solutions for a stable, secure state of life and community for its residents is at the heart of a multi-arts festival in the city.

Kate, along with Ryan Kerr and Jenn Cole, are the driving forces behind the month-long arts festival, Precarious2, which is running now through to Dec. 21 in Peterborough.

Kate speaks with Electric City Magazine about the impetus for the festival and its projected benefits.

“I would hope that not through one grand plan but through a number of smaller micro-interventions, as citizens living together in this community, we will find ways to address these things and provide a sort of hope for the future.”

This is the third multi-arts festival and the second year for the precarious theme. It arose from Kate’s conversations with artists about their work, ideas, interests and concerns. Participants are using art as a tool to generate more security and stability in physical, emotional, economic and social conditions.

“It really felt like things hadn’t gotten any less precarious since 2017,” Kate says.

“If anything, they’ve gotten more precarious and it’s increasing… so we thought let’s keep investigating it.”

The festival brings together a mix of multiple forms of art-making along with panel discussions. “A lot of social justice and social service organizations have resources to do panels and often have an interest in having non-artists and artists on those panels.

“Artists investigate the world in particular ways and those observations are as justified as a social scientist or a physical scientist. So, hosting those panels featuring artists and non-artists exploring the issue of precarity makes for a deeper exploration.”

There are various festival community partners, such as Nourish, which presents a panel on food insecurity. Other activities explore the economics of precarity, climate crisis, issues impacting indigenous artists and more.

The participating artists and the organizations involved helped shape the bill. “No precarious stone is unturned, I hope,” Kate says.

She is already seeing some of the projected benefits of the event come to fruition, such as new relationships being forged.

Artists are connecting with other creative people who they haven’t met before. Artists and non-artists are networking with staff from various organizations.

People who met during the 2017 festival continue to work together as a result of the relationship connection made during that event, she adds.

Kate suspects there will continue to be new ways for artists, arts organizations and non-arts organizations to work together in the community.

“That would be my hope that there’s a ripple effect that would continue to try and address precariousness. In the end, I would hope that not through one grand plan but through a number of smaller micro-interventions, as citizens living together in this community, we will find ways to address these things and provide a sort of hope for the future.”

In addition, the festival encompasses mentorship with youth artists and that is also a source of inspiration for Kate.

The performer and author has been involved in the Peterborough theatre scene and arts community for many years.

Meanwhile, her partner, Ryan, runs The Theatre on King. “That’s really the heart of the Precarious festival,” Kate says. “It has kind of become a hub for new risk-taking performance and experimentation in Peterborough. It has also become a place where there is a group of us making original performance work on a regular basis.”

As for the festival in general, “there’s something for pretty much everyone,” she notes.

Precarious2 features more than 50 artists creating and presenting new works in theatre, visual art, music, spoken word, literary arts, film and performance.

Precarious2 is presented by Fleshy Thud in partnership with Public Energy.

Precarious events are currently running throughout the downtown.

Many events are free and all have a pay-what-you-can option. Donations are welcome to support Precarious2 artists.

Visit the website for a complete line-up of events and biographies of participating artists.

Photos by Andy Carroll.

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