Art-ful Engagement in Small Cities: Beyond the Project

March 26, 2021

About the panel

Cultural mapping, graphic facilitation and exhibition have become staple elements of intersectoral cultural work, and ready “contact zones” for community-university collaboration. They are designed to draw out the everyday creativity of the participants, breakdown personal and institutional boundaries, give licence to playful exploration, encourage fresh perspectives, enrich dialogues and make the engagement process visible.

This curated video documents three interrelated community-engaged research initiatives as case studies: a Public Showers Project undertaken by United Way, ASK Wellness, the Steelworkers Union and TRU; the creation of a Researcher-in-Residence position by the City of Kamloops and TRU; and a LGBTQ2S+ Cultural Mapping Pride Project inspired by TRU cultural mapping initiatives and undertaken by the Salmon Arm Arts Centre, the City of Salmon Arm and a coalition of community stakeholders. All three initiatives represent the special zones of contact at play in community engaged research collaboration in smaller communities. Drawing upon recent collaborative work with the United Way, the Steelworkers and ASK Wellness (the Aids Society of Kamloops), the video begins with documentation of a public showers initiative from its inception to the opening—and its impact in Kamloops.

A central focus here will be the notion of "The Rhetoric of the Project," exploring how projects and project management are variously defined by the trades volunteers (Steelworkers Local 7619), the union management, the AIDS Society host and artists (especially community-based artists) who make them possible. The video material on The Public Shower, gathered before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, documents a number of striking correspondences between the project focus of the steelworkers and the project orientations that characterize the public art practices of the artists.

We are especially interested in understanding the rhetoric of the project—project funding, project thinking and how the sense of an ending informs that rhetoric in all three contact zones. For the craftspeople volunteering on The Shower Project, the official opening of the showers brought closure. Those interviewed that day spoke enthusiastically and consistently of their desire to “move on to the next project.” Questions of measurement, of assessing the impact of the project, were referenced as the kind of concerns associated with management—as something removed from the more organic, intuitive and improvisational acts of making.

The Shower Project provides an introductory framing device for the video, introducing key themes that are picked up by, first, the Researcher in Residence (RiR) project with the City of Kamloops; and, second, with a cultural mapping project in the small city of Salmon Arm. Both of these initiatives are in process: the RiR is the subject of intense negotiation, with the City taking the lead and encouraging the University to participate. The Salmon Arm Pride Project draws upon cultural mapping work pioneered in Kamloops and now transplanted and adapted in Salmon Arm, under the direction of the Community Arts Council and Gallery. Taken together, these initiatives speak to the importance of moving beyond the project and toward sustainable creative partnerships.


Date: March 26, 2021
Panel Time: 2:00 - 2:50pm PT


Online via Zoom
Note: This event is held via Zoom Webinar and will be recorded. A link to the Webinar will be distributed via email to registrants prior to the event.

Shima Iuchi. Illuminations of Kamloops, 2004-2005. copper, handmade paper with Kamloops mountain soil, polymer medium, digital sound component, lights. 213 x 487 x 457cm. Courtesy of the Kamloops Art Gallery and the Cultural Future of Small Cities Community-University Research Alliance.


Will Garrett-Petts, Associate Vice-President of Research and Graduate Studies at Thompson Rivers University

Will Garrett-Petts is Professor of English, Rhetoric, & Canadian Studies and Associate Vice-President of Research and Graduate Studies at Thompson Rivers University. His recent books and catalogues include Cultural Mapping as Cultural Inquiry (2015; paperback edition, 2020); Whose Culture is it, Anyway? Community Engagement in Small Cities (2014); Writing about Literature (2nd ed. 2013); Imaging Place (2009); Artists’ Statements and the Nature of Artistic Inquiry (2007); The Small Cities Book: On the Cultural Future of Small Cities (2005); and PhotoGraphic Encounters: The Edges and Edginess of Reading Prose Pictures and Visual Fictions (2000). He is Series Editor (with Nancy Duxbury Carreiro) for Small Cities: Sustainability in Community and Cultural Engagement (University of Calgary Press); and, supported by Social Sciences and Humanities in Canada (SSHRC Insight program) funding and Vancouver Foundation (Participatory Action Research) funding, he is engaged in exploring questions of visual and verbal culture, cultural and vernacular mapping, and the artistic animation of small cities. He also has a special interest in the theory and practice of including students in undergraduate research. Garrett-Petts co-edited a newly released book, Artistic Approaches to Cultural Mapping (Routledge, 2019; paperback edition, 2020).

Tracey Kutschker, Director/Curator at the Salmon Arm Arts Centre

As Director/Curator at Salmon Arm Arts Centre and Art Gallery, Tracey Kutschker has nearly 20 years of experience in a management role in the arts and culture sector. She has developed and executed many inter-disciplinary arts programs, including large-scale community art projects, family and youth programming, and public art projects, all while managing the regional Arts Council. A graduate of the University of Lethbridge, Tracey’s liberal arts education gave her an excellent foundation in which to advance the cultural agenda in her small city through engagement, curatorial practice, advocacy and liaising with non-arts sectors.

Danalee Baker, Economic Development Project Manager for Tk'emlups te Secwepemc

Born and raised in Kamloops, Danalee chose to settle there again after travelling, studying and working across the globe for close to 20 years. She is married, has two children and three SPCA-rescued cats. Her experiences range from leadership in education, client services in the tech sector,  and working and leading in the non-profit sector for nearly twelve years. She is a TRU Alumni, receiving her Bachelor's degree in Human Geography and completed graduate work in International Leadership at Capilano University. Currently Danalee is an Economic Development Project Manager for Tk'emlups te Secwepemc in Kamloops.  She recognizes she works, lives, and plays in the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc territory within the unceded and occupied traditional lands of the Secwepemc Nation. As such, Danalee gives thanks and acknowledges the privilege she has to be an uninvited guest there

Tammy Robertson, City of Kamloops, External Relations Manager

Tammy Robertson, External Relations Manager with the City of Kamloops, has 30 years of experience in the private and public sector. In recent years, she was responsible for the City’s marketing and public relations and the Kamloops Airport. Tammy has moved into a dedicated external relations role to enhance Indigenous relations, stakeholder and community engagement. A key focus for Tammy is building on the City's relationships with Indigenous communities, business organizations, industry and all levels of government. Current projects include establishing partnerships on the development of community facilities, facilitating collaborative marketing efforts, and creating meaningful engagement processes with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc.

Cheryl Gladu, Researcher in Residence, Thompson Rivers University

Cheryl Gladu, Ph.D., MBA, is the Researcher-in-Residence Postdoctoral fellow at Thompson Rivers University. Cheryl has an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Design and Management from Concordia University. In addition to being curious about nearly everything, she studies how people co-create systems and structures for simpler yet richer lives and, to that end, has investigated collaborative housing communities. Before this work, she co-created and managed a small upstart green real estate development company that developed Canada’s first net-zero multi-unit residential building using a unique integrated design process. In addition to her research, Cheryl has over a decade of experience teaching, with a primary focus on creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Creative Assistance

Kate Fagervik, Manager of Visitor Experience, Salmon Arm Arts Centre. Kate received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from TRU in Kamloops, BC in 2010. She has worked locally as an artist, an entrepreneur, a consultant and a yoga instructor. Kate is passionate about education, community and believes that YOU are art! She joined the staff in 2018 and leads the Education Program and Family Saturdays, as well as manages the Arts Centre’s online presence.

Emily Hope, Director of Education and Public Programs, Kamloops Art Gallery. As the Director of Education and Public Programs, Emily ensures that the Kamloops Arts Gallery is connected to the community it serves by directing major KAG events and programs. She is an artist, creator, and community builder.

Kristina Bradshaw. Kristina is a Kamloops based visual artist and graduate of the BFA program at Thompson Rivers University (TRU). She primarily focuses on photography and alternative photographic techniques, printmaking, and sculpture mediums. Her work generally follows themes of voyage and the mixture of art and science or research


The Kamloops and Salmon Arm teams gratefully acknowledge support provided by Simon Fraser University’s Community Engaged Research Institute, by Thompson Rivers University, and by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.