Scugog Cultural Connections Symposium – Event Summary

The Scugog Cultural Connections Symposium was held Thursday, April 11 & Friday April 12 at the Wellness and Resource Centre of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN). The theme of the event was audience building for arts and culture practitioners and organizations, and the overarching message, carried through the event, echoed by all the guest speakers, quickly became apparent – “Engage your heart to inform your mind to build your audience”

And hearts were engaged on Thursday evening as 60 plus delegates, representing all facets of the local arts and culture community, were guided through a smudging ceremony and a Talking Feather Circle by cultural coordinator Matthew Stevens. It was a fitting start for this first ever multi-arts symposium hosted by the Scugog Council for the Arts (SCA) with the generous support of the MSIFN and SPARC – Supporting Performing Arts in Rural Communities.

In the context of the Talking Feather Circle, an activity, which could have been no more than a networking exercise, became a much more meaningful and impactful experience. The Talking Feather Circle gave permission for participants to become present and enabled them to listen and to share. Scugog artists also experienced their community reflected back through the eyes of newcomers and visitors, and were reminded that Scugog has a unique arts community of strength, connection, diversity of interests, and passion.

Friday’s presentations and break out groups were led by notable industry professionals, including keynote speaker Jason Maghanoy (playwright and Director of Membership and Partner Success with Toronto Life Magazine), Marion Meyers (Scugog Council for the Arts, Artist, Branding Specialist), Kim Blackwell (Managing Artistic Director, 4th Line Theatre), Leslie Hughes (Social Media Guru – PUNCH!MEDIA) and former Port Perry native Heather Kanabe (General Manager, Hamilton Fringe Festival). Through the day, participants were encouraged to find the heart and truth of their own stories, to use those stories to speak to audiences through brand messaging, to be genuine and passionate about their work, and that relationships built on authentic stories build strong partnerships.

After a day and a half of new ideas and connections, the symposium came full circle with a performance of dancing and drumming by the MSIFN, concluding with an intertribal dance inviting all participants to take part and join the circle with the performers.

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