After a great deal of individual and group reflection we have decided that 2019 will be the last year of the Toronto Creative Music Lab (TCML) workshop. With multiple organizers directing time and energy towards other personal and creative work, we feel this is the appropriate time to take the proverbial step back.
As a group of volunteers, we began organizing TCML in 2015. The workshop has proven to be one of the most rewarding, meaningful, and demanding experiences of our lives.
For us, TCML is much more than a repertoire creation and performance workshop. TCML is a response to a particular need that we perceive in the music community, especially among artists working in contemporary classical music spaces. With the resources that we have, we work to build a more inclusive and accessible space for artists, and to challenge our assumptions about music making. This is ongoing work. Throughout the TCML process, we educate ourselves by seeking outside consultation from those who have more expertise than we do.
Inclusivity, accessibility, and community building are key values from which the organization operates. In addition to the core activity of creating new works in a collaborative environment, the workshop offers professional development sessions that foreground social justice and allyship, opportunities to learn from fellow participants, spontaneous creation with Jumblies Theatre artists, performance opportunities, and professional documentation of the work done while at TCML. In addition, a number of measures are taken to foster community and keep the cost of participation low, including providing two shared meals per day, free housing, and free transportation within the city.
We have a lot to celebrate and we are proud to say that our modest workshop has an international impact. While never perfect, the ever-growing TCML experience has provided participants with meaningful opportunities. We have seen TCML contribute to continued collaborations beyond the workshop, including the formation of new ensembles, new commissions, invitations to festivals and workshops, and entrance to prestigious academic institutions. From an administrative standpoint, TCML has impacted other organizations throughout North America through consultation and sharing knowledge—and wherever possible, supporting participants who seek to make change within legacy arts organizations, and academic institutions in their city.
As organizers, we feel it is important to reaffirm what many already understand as a symptom of our field: having a small group of people volunteer thousands of hours to run an intensive workshop like TCML is not sustainable. We therefore feel it is important to reaffirm another truth: there are institutions and organizations in this city, province, and country that are gifted with the operational capacity to take greater risks and to confront and mitigate oppression more directly and in a sustainable way. A failure to confront these realities—of racism, colonialism, misogyny, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, other forms of oppression, and their intersections—is to fail as artists, as administrators, and as community members.
Something is happening to confront these realities in this field—something that needs to be happening more—and we’ve been happy to engage with the community in transformative work. As organizers we will apply this understanding to our work in other spaces and organizations.
More immediately, we will be working hard over the next three weeks to deliver TCML 2019, and we are excited to be sharing the space with an incredible group of people this year! Simultaneously, we will be reflecting on what we have done thus far, our successes and failures, and the support we have received over the last four years.
Thank you to those partners who share their skills and resources in order to make the TCML experience that much greater: Jumblies Theatre, Arraymusic, The Music Gallery, the Canadian Music Centre, Volta/Mallo, and in particular 918 Bathurst which has served as our home (kitchen and all) since the first year.
Thank you to the funders and grant officers at SOCAN Foundation, Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, and Canada Council for the Arts. It means a lot that an unconventional workshop like TCML could find support through various funders. We took some ambitious strides each year with your support!
Our deepest expression of love and appreciation to the community members who find countless ways to support the full realization of the workshop: those folks who contribute money, host visiting artists, help us in the kitchen, or offer to drive us around since none of us have cars! We smile when we recall your efforts. We will be forever grateful.
Lastly, and most significantly, to the TCML Participants: we have travelled remarkable distances with you, and because of you. You trusted in us. You gave so much of yourself to the workshop process. We have grown, all of us together, artistically and as a community. You have been a defining part of our lives as organizers.
When we started TCML we would comment to one another that it might take 30 or 40 years to see the true impact of the workshop. We were able to start many conversations, and now we have work to do—in our ensembles, in our festivals, in our schools, in our workplaces, in our communities.
Organizers of the Toronto Creative Music Lab
Sara Constant, Jason Doell, Matthew Fava, Janet Sit, Christina Volpini