The Media Ideas Lab at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba is part of a visionary pilot project designed to support and sustain independent media art practice in Manitoba outside of Winnipeg.
Situated in Brandon, Manitoba and serving a regional catchment with a population of 200,000, the AGSM leads and inspires community engagement through contemporary art exhibitions, education and events. Annually, it serves over 21,000 visitors, and 2,225 adult professional development and 1,000 youth community arts education participants.
In its 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, the AGSM identified media art programs and classes as an area of strategic development focus. The AGSM began looking at this area in early 2016, when it completed a province-wide survey of artists and services in the field. A longstanding lack of support and training specific to professional art practice in the media arts outside of Winnipeg was identified.
Following its survey, the AGSM worked with local arts councils and Indigenous program delivery organizations to create a plan to foster the development of local artists who could go on to become instructors and regional resources, to increase exposure and training in media art fields.
A regional working group supported the AGSM’s successful submission to the Canada Council’s Digital Strategy Fund. This funding permitted the contracting of a two-year specialized project manager to develop a strategy for a regional media art production support system, including developing pathways for the sustainability and permanence of this system.
As specialized equipment is also a core need of artist support systems in the field, this initiative is also tasked with developing a basic regional equipment depot. This equipment will support in-house workshops and will be shared with regional arts groups, as well as be available for independent artist access through the type of borrowing program that is common to the sector.