BrkGrnd_webbyBREAKING GROUND was an innovative forum that brings together a diverse mix of stakeholders to explore how the arts can empower small and rural communities. Hosted by ArtsLink NB, the forum is a key opportunity to learn how to harness art, culture, and creativity as catalysts for community vibrancy, sustainability and prosperity.

BREAKING GROUND kicked off on Friday night with a casual reception that celebrates local culture. Saturday offered a full day of speakers and interactive sessions, and featured keynote addresses by John Davis, a leading rural arts advocate in the U.S., and Mireille Eagan, curator of contemporary art at The Rooms, in St. John’s, NL.


FRIDAY, NOV. 6, 2015:

2-4 pm: Community Collaboration Workshop with keynote speaker John Davis. River Art Centre & Studio, 8 McCain St #1, Florenceville-Bristol

5-7 pm: ‘Pencil, Clay & Lens,’ Andrew & Laura McCain Art Gallery. 8 McCain St #1, Florenceville-Bristol

An exhibition of works by three ArtsLink members: Anne Babin (photographer), Monique Bujold-Brown (potter) and Jessie Babin (visual artist).  

7-9 pm: Carleton County Culture, Second Wind Music Centre, 16 Curtis rd. Florenceville-Bristol

This down-to-earth reception featured bluegrass by Wyatt Morell and friends; a storytelling session hosted by Lisa Anne Ross, with stories by Tegan Wong-DaughertyJim Lawranceand John P Rairdon; and local fare from Railcar Brewing Co. and Creek Village Gallery & Cafe. 

SATURDAY, NOV. 7, 2015, Carleton North High School, 30 School St, Florenceville-Bristol

8:30 am: Registration opened.

9 am: People of the River: Opening remarks/performance by Natalie Sappier, visual artist and aboriginal outreach officer at artsnb. 

9:30-10:15 am: Wish You Were Here, keynote address by Mireille Eagan, curator with The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, in St. John’s, NL. Mireille shared her observations of artists working in so-called “isolated” communities and spoke to various projects she has worked on — from an initiative that sent artists to the Venice Biennale to a 12-person exhibition she curated at The Rooms called “Folklore and Other Panics,” which considered how older forms of making art might inform the new. Q & A followed. 

10:15-11:30:  Field Notes: A panel discussion of the challenges and benefits of being an artist or cultural worker in a small or rural community. With: Alyson Brown, Legacy Lane Fiber Mill, Sussex; Zach Melanson, photographer and co-founder, Community Forests International, Sackville; Beth Powning, author, Markhamville; Peter Powning, visual artist, Markhamville; Leland Wong-Daugherty, illustrator and co-founder, Knowlesville Art & Nature Centre, Knowlesville. Moderator: Julie Scriver, creative director, Goose Lane Editions.  

11:30-12:15 pm: Small Town, Big Visionkeynote address by John Davis, Executive Director, Lanesboro Arts Center. Lanesboro Arts Center is reimagining the future of rural America and the role that the arts can play in its sustainability by transforming an entire small town into an arts campus. This talk explored the political, economic, and creative problem-solving strategies of this innovative vision.


1-3 pm: 2020 Vision, ArtsLink AGM and collaborative feedback session on strategic planning priorities, facilitated by Julia Feltham