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Common Weal Community Arts

  • Status:
    Non-profit 
  • Main Communities Served:
    Adults, All Ages, Children, Seniors, Youth 
  • Main Catchment Area:
    Saskatchewan 
  • Languages:
    English 
  • Arts Focus:
    Common Weal works in all disciplines including drama, visual arts, video, photography, with the art practice geared towards the best way of working with the community and the discipline of the contracted artist. 
  • Main Community-Engaged Arts / Arts for Social Change Activities:
    Common Weal impacts communities who are under-served or who do not presently access mainstream arts programming and works towards changing the lives of the people involved in a positive way. It has developed great community partnerships throughout the province of Saskatchewan. Common Weal will continue to fulfill its mandate by facilitating programs and projects that will make a positive impact in communities throughout Saskatchewan. The Artistic Directors from both offices engage with and respond to communities to develop and present artistic/creative community arts projects. Programs are usually offered at no charge to the participants. The projects often conclude with a public presentation that helps to create awareness of the program and the communities involved.

    "Hello In There / Hello Out There" is an interactive art project engaging senior citizens, most of whom live in permanent care facilities, through artist-led workshops. Participants are invited to share their personal narratives, life stories, and memories, and are then assisted in making a selected story or memory accessible to others through the creation of an assemblage or diorama memory box, using miniatures, images, photographs, and other ephemera arranged inside of decorated cigar boxes and other small wooden boxes. In addition, each participant is given the opportunity to tell their story in their own voice in an audio recording. The project will culminate in a province-wide touring exhibition of the memory boxes, each one paired with an audio recording of the artist’s narrative, through Saskatchewan in 2015-2016.

    The goals of "Hello In There/Hello Out There" are designed to address serious issues faced by older adults, helping them feel included, heard, important, valued, and respected as individuals, and to engage with them by listening, and inviting them to talk, and helping them to make visual art pieces that communicate the things that are important to them. The result is a powerful collection of memories and artworks that we feel is important to share widely, stimulating dialogue in our society, and honouring this valuable, but often neglected, segment of our society.

    Today’s septuagenarians and older folks are the last generation who carry within them the stories of a pre-industrialized Saskatchewan. The touring exhibition of Hello In There will bring much needed attention to these vital life stories from a different time.

    The participants often commented on the surprise they felt at the power and emotional impact of the memories and stories resurrected as a result of the program. End of project participant comments included: ‘I was surprised by how many memories came to mind and how I was able to put some of them in better perspective’, and 'It made me think of the past and review issues that needed to be thought through'. To a person, the participants expressed their gratitude for the program, their deep disappointment that the project had ended, and their hope that it might be able to continue.

    We at Common Weal Community Arts are grateful to The Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils for providing the opportunity to tour this powerful exhibition of artworks. We also would like to thank our many funding sources, which allowed us to facilitate "Hello In There, Hello Out There." These include: Canada Council for the Arts, Saskatchewan Arts Board, Saskatchewan Lotteries and The City of Regina, the Community Initiatives Fund, New Horizons for Seniors Program, Conexus Credit Union, Great West Life, and ArtsVest. 
  • Mandate/Mission:
    Common Weal Community Arts Inc. is a charitable community arts organization founded in 1993 with Rachael Van Fossen as Artistic Director. Its mandate is to engage artists collaboratively with communities to promote social change and cultural identity. Common Weal works with many different communities throughout Saskatchewan and does not maintain a studio space on a regular basis. Offices are based in Regina and Prince Albert. The participants of programs often come from marginalized communities. Common Weal helps to give them a voice through artistic practices. 
  • ArtBridging Section:
    Common Weal is an established community arts organization, interested in partnering and doing outreach with other community arts initiatives. They would be pleased to partner with other emerging and established community arts organizations to share information, develop joint programs, and offer mentoring and advice.
  • Additional Info:
    Common Weal has three full-time permanent staff. Depending on budgets, they often hire two part-time staff, and will contract with approximately 25 artists per year depending on the projects undertaken. Approximately 20 volunteers are involved on a yearly basis. They work with people of all ages, with an average number of participants in all programs of 800 per year.

    Additional Contact: Gerry Ruecker, Common Weal (Southern Office) 
  • Main Contact Name:
    Risa Payant, Executive Director 
  • Secondary Contact:
    Judy McNaughton, Common Weal (Northern Office) 
  • Phone:
    (306) 780-9442 
  • Main Contact Email:
    edcommonweal@sasktel.net 
  • Website:
  • Address:
    #220 - 1808 Smith St. (Southern Saskatchewan Office)
    Regina, SK  S4P 2N4 
  • Secondary Address:
    1010 Central Avenue (Northern Saskatchewan Office)
    Prince Albert, SK  S6V 4V5 

Last updated on 2015-07-30 14:18:45. Submitted by: Common Weal Community Arts