September 12, 2020
By Kaitlyn Patience
Milton community members gathered on a hilltop at Milton Community Sports Park on Saturday, September 12, 2020. This congregation of Miltonians marked the first artist-led Culture Conversation with artist Nargis Naqvi as part of Milton’s Culture Plan development process.
Christina Romasz, Coordinator, Programming and Outreach with Town of Milton, describes the intentions behind the Culture Plan. Romasz says, “Culture in Milton is not currently defined. We want voices from the community to tell us. We want to know what people think of when they think of culture. For example, do they see it as an independent experience or as a family activity?”
The artist-led Culture Conversations are part of Phase 1 of the Plan, which consists of information gathering through in-person conversations, online surveys, and culture mapping. As for the Conversations, “it’s mainly up to the artist” how they are designed, Christina explains.
Nargis Naqvi’s workshop encouraged participants to visualize what culture means to them using posterboard, collage elements from local magazines, and drawing utensils. Naqvi, who started out in oil painting, now focuses on mixed media, sketching, collage, and resin work. She hoped the morning of art-making would get people’s creative juices flowing and she used the opportunity to chat with participants about what culture means in their mind.
Participant Jaweira Imran created a piece that offered a theme of harmony. Her artwork depicted images of people of various races and stages of life within a defined silhouette outline of just one person. Imran describes her intentions: “For me, culture means accepting our differences and being tolerant towards each other. It means unity and diversity. This work shows how people are stronger together.” Participant Saleha Feruque says of the overall event, “This is a nice way to break the isolation we have all been going through. It’s also a great idea for a growing town – a great way to facilitate that growth is by having these conversations.”
The online culture survey and map are available at milton.ca/cultureconvos. PROCESS is the consultancy retained by the Town of Milton to support the development of the Culture Plan. Artists Omar Hopkinson, Jon Corbin and Shaima Hasan have also planned and hosted Culture Conversations. Phase 2 of the Plan will involve a discussion of findings from Phase 1, and Phase 3 will present direction for policy, investment, and future focus of municipal programs and services.