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Together Apart: DIY Culture, Alternative Spaces, and Collaborative Place-Making (Working title)
Toronto March 2021 //

Research symposium + Public Conference – Saturday, March 20, 2021

As part of La Station x Long Winter: Toronto + Paris: The second instalment of a bi-city, binational exchange that includes two multi-arts festivals and conferences, co-presented by Collectif MU/La Station (Fr) and Long Winter (Ca), focused on underground music and art scenes in France and Canada.
Together Apart: DIY Culture, Alternative Spaces, and Collaborative Place-Making is a public conference designed to facilitate international, cross-sectoral exchange between Canadian and European cities (focus on Paris and Toronto), and generate new solutions and possibilities for DIY cultural scenes and spaces in Toronto.

DIY scenes are highly threatened spaces. This was true before the pandemic, and has never been more evident. Despite being sources of the most prescient, often revolutionary, developments in arts and culture (aesthetically, socially, politically), DIY artists and community leaders are systemically under-resourced, and under-represented. 

In a well-documented series of events, Toronto has suffered an extraordinary loss of DIY-focused venues and spaces over the past 5 years. The unique home base of our Paris co-producers (MU – La Station) resulted from a publicly-incentivized DIY collective + developer partnership. It offers an eye-opening case study for artists and policy-makers in Canada.

Together Apart is a rare opportunity to explore the value and exceptionality of these spaces, through a range of lenses, and to open critical access for an under-resourced segment of the sector. Our collaborative Working Groups provide a new intervention, paving the way for future solutions that put local cultural communities in direct collaboration with public and private stakeholders, in tackling complex, inter-systemic problems. 

Radical organizing, experimentation, and divergence (autonomous interventions and new ideas) have always been characteristic of DIY spaces. Centering these voices in the pursuit of creative solutions and opportunities for social and cultural benefit holds valuable lessons, and applicability, for many other sectors.There are very few, if any, significant international opportunities for knowledge and research exchange between DIY networks — and there has never been an event like this in Canada. Our project is an historic opportunity, made possible by support and partnership with larger institutions. Opening these points of access will generate important momentum, at a critical time.