The Shorefast Foundation believes the arts will play a key role in helping to secure the future sustainability of Fogo Island and Change Islands, which are located off the northeast coast of Newfoundland in Canada.

In pursuit of this vision, Fogo Island Arts takes a multifaceted approach.

Fogo Island Arts Residencies provide opportunities for artists and thinkers from a wide range of disciplines to live and work on Fogo Island for varying periods of time. All artists-in-residence live in heritage houses and work in one of four off-the-grid studios designed by architect Todd Saunders, which are situated at different locations around the island.

The considered locations of the studios and artists’ homes help connect artists-in-residence with the day-to-day lives of the Island’s local communities. Fogo Island Arts also works closely with the Fogo Island Inn’s Community Host program, which introduces visitors to the traditional activities of outport Newfoundland and Labrador.

Artists-in-residence are encouraged, but not required, to undertake collaborations with Island residents. Past projects have included films made with the participation of Fogo Islanders, and international designers and local craftspeople working together to create furniture designs informed by local traditions, available materials and outport ways of life. Fogo Island Arts envisions future collaborations to potentially be a source of income generation for the artists, designers and the Island’s communities. These Design Initiatives help to fulfill the social enterprise mission of the Shorefast Foundation and Fogo Island Arts.

Selected artists-in-residence will also present their work in the Fogo Island Gallery. A purpose-built contemporary art space, the Gallery is housed in the Fogo Island Inn and will open in Spring 2013. Our Publications program, created in collaboration with major international art publishers, will help to create a further discursive context for Gallery exhibitions.

The Fogo Island Dialogues will be a roving series of conferences, held on Fogo Island and other locations (such as St. John’s, Montreal and Vienna). Featuring leading thinkers in their respective fields, the Dialogues will address important questions faced by the global community in the 21st century. The initial series of conferences, scheduled for Spring 2013, will look at the topic of “the livelihood and renewal of remote communities.”

The Fogo Island Dialogues exemplify how all Fogo Island Arts initiatives are framed by an engagement with the Island’s local communities. While the conferences will provide an opportunity to reflect on the circumstances of rural and remote communities, such as those found on Fogo Island and Change Islands, the Fogo Island Arts’ project as a whole will function as a business initiative for the Islands. Fogo Island Arts plans to partner with a number of institutions globally to stage these conferences and to produce the series of publications that will accompany the Dialogues.

In addition to the film projects realized within the Residencies program, Fogo Island Arts will also present film screenings in the Fogo Island Cinema. Using film to bring communities together and foster discussion has deep roots on Fogo Island and Change Islands. The National Film Board of Canada (NFB), an important partner for Fogo Island Arts’ film initiatives, is also a pioneer in the use of media technology to initiate community dialogue.

What’s known today as the Fogo Process was an NFB project carried out in the late 1960s, in partnership with Extension Services of Memorial University and the Fogo Island Improvement Committee. NFB director Colin Low filmed a series of interviews with Fogo Island and Change Islands residents about the pressing issues facing their communities due to the decline in the fishery, which had up to that time been the Islands’ economic mainstay. The films were subsequently screened for Island residents and government officials, creating a conversation between the two parties that led to, among other things, the creation of a fishermen’s cooperative. The Fogo Process is today recognized around the world as prototype for the way media can be used to promote the exchange of ideas leading to social change.

The spirit of the Fogo Process continues with the Fogo Island Arts Education program. Educational initiatives will include art and filmmaking workshops for Island residents, community groups and students attending Fogo Island Central Academy. These workshops and presentations will be led by artists-in-residence and other arts and educational professionals associated with Fogo Island Arts.

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