Winnipeg Arts Council program matches artists to public art projects

By: Serena Chommany

The Winnipeg Arts Council is looking for applications for local artists and communities to join the WITH ART program before March 30.

The WITH ART program started in 2006 and matches artists of all mediums with communities to work collaboratively on a public art piece.

“This program is really about engaging with the people of Winnipeg through an artistic process,” said Tamara Rae Biebrich, senior public art project manager for the Winnipeg Arts Council.

“We define public art really broadly for this program, it can be a cited work, an anthology of writing, a series of videos, a photography installation, or it can be a performance in public space,” Biebrich said.

Students can apply to be on the artist roster, but it’s important that an artist can demonstrate their skills set, work experience, and capability to manage a project, Biebrich said.

Jim Agapito, a director and producer, has worked with the WITH ART program three times since graduating from Red River College Polytechnic in 2004 for Digital Film Production.

Jim Agapito behind the scenes with Sunshine House for the WITH ART program in 2014./CHRIS FRIESEN

“I’ve never been a part of anything like [the WITH ART program] in my life,” Agapito said. 

In 2009, Agapito directed a rap video and documentary with the Immigrant and Refugee Organization of Manitoba, called Live/Life From 95

Agapito also worked with Sunshine House to create short films for their Solvent User’s Recreation Project (SURP) in 2014. He worked with the Ndinawe Youth Outreach Centre in 2019 to create a seven-episode documentary series on the everyday lives of the youth members in this community.

“The entire process with working with communities had a huge impact on the way that I view art and create art,” Agapito said.

Due to the pandemic, the WITH ART program has not started any new projects in the last two years. Biebrich said she is looking forward to starting new art projects this spring.

Artists and community groups who are selected for the program are interviewed by Biebrich and her team. The community representatives can select the artists they want to collaborate with from the artist roster and together they develop a project proposal for the artist to present to Biebrich.

The artists are paid $3,000 to start the collaboration process and develop a project proposal. If the proposal is approved, they have access to another $20,000 to produce the artwork, Biebrich said.

The Winnipeg Arts Council will accept applications until the end of March.